Days of Sunshine, Showers and Rainbows October Stallion Visiting in Ireland Part 1

by Ginny Smith and Amanda Bliss

At the end of a long day of meetings with the members of a client team in Cork, I set off for Shannon to pick up the other members of the breeder group who were flying in to join me on a three-day jaunt across Ireland, visiting studs and viewing some of our stallion heroes.

Not only some of the group but also our mares have Irish family connections; between us we own three ISH mares, one a maiden in foal to Hever Golf RangerXX, and the other (Able AlbertXX x Diamond Lad) having a second foal at foot by Amiro Z; a Beach Boy x Sussex Diamond mare in foal to the young Brendon Stud stallion Warrior, whilst the third member of the group has a Lauriston mare in foal to Millenium. The fourth, currently working at Catherston, was coming along for the interest! So we were a mixed bunch in terms of our breeding interests (largely eventing and showjumping, with the Lauriston mare adding a touch of dressage class), but united in our enthusiasm for Irish TBs and Irish breeding. We had planned a packed itinerary for the three days that we were spending together, trying to take in as many as possible of the major sport horse studs in the south of Ireland, ending our journey on Saturday in co Wexford in the east before flying back from Cork.

Day One : Kennedy Equine Centre

Our first visit of the day was to Kennedy EC in Adare, co Limerick, where for many years they have been breeding successful showjumpers, and currently stand some legendary stallions. Their foundation stallion was Glidawn Diamond, who stood with them for many years until his death, and their mare herd still carries his blood. When we arrived we saw the old boy Aldatus Z (Aldato x Caletto) in the sandschool, looking very different from the photos of him in his prime; he’s now 24 but, as William Kennedy said, “Still as fertile as any of the younger stallions”. His showjumping progeny are doing very well in Ireland and internationally; his name is also starting to appear as the sire of successful young event horses.

Autumn not being the usual time for stallion viewing, many of the horses that we saw were being let down for the winter, and after the rigours of the stud season and time out in the field were looking woolly and muddy! Maybe the best state to really be able to judge the quality of a stallion.

In addition to Aldatus Z, William and his son pulled out OBOS Quality, Sunny Boy, Oke BoyXX and Chacoa for us to see. OBOS Quality really impressed us, not least with his sweet temperament; given his breeding (Quick Star SF x Domino) he was chunkier, had more bone and was more compact than we expected. He has offspring successfully eventing in Ireland, the US and the UK (ODT Maisie Grey with Ollie Townend), as well as a number of young horses doing well in the showjumping ring. He had a very nice walk, and is producing foals more “blood” in appearance than one would expect just from looking at him.

OBOS Quality
Oke Boy

OBOS Quality

(Quick Star SF x Domino)

Oke Boy

(Secret'n Classy x Surmuru)

Sunny Boy

Sunny Boy (left) was probably the one who most caught our eye for the Irish mares; we loved his breeding for an eventing sire – Julio MarinerXX x Notaris (KWPN) – and in spite of being woolly and ungroomed he had great presence, and danced up the concrete runway to show himself off. He was was a very pretty type, compact and had a nice, loose trot. As we left the stud at the end of our visit, the final glimpse was of Sunny Boy in the sandschool, kicking his heels up high in exhilaration.

Oke Boy is a tough TB that I really liked the look of – and we saw a very correct and flashy 3 year old by him in another part of the stud – a credit to his robustness must be that he has raced 96 times, and retired to stud sound. On his sire side he goes back to the great Secretariat; I was less familiar with his damline, but I’m not a TB guru! The dilemma that you have as a mare owner, in these tough times, if thinking of breeding to a stallion like Oke Boy, is how saleable the resulting offspring might be – I think in the UK his pedigree would be less familiar to potential buyers.

We only got a brief glimpse of Chacoa, (Contender x Landgraf 1) who was a very pretty and modern-looking stallion, but proving difficult to handle – William said that they had quite recently moved the stallions to the new facility, and Chacoa had failed to settle. Chacoa competed with Shane Breen up to 1.30m before retiring to stud, and his offspring are proving very popular in Ireland, and are beginning to appear in the ribbons in the showring and on the evening circuit, with his daughter Strictly Business being the highest placed mare in the Young Event Horse Finals in 2006.

We were sad not to see Lancelot (Voltaire x Nimmerdor), who we had been looking forward to – he was competing with William’s daughter – and KEC Maximum Joe (Lasangos x Pilot), who William obviously thinks a great deal of. He had been competing with Billy Twomey, but had picked up an injury at Hickstead in the summer and is currently in the Netherlands receiving treatment. The Selle Francais stallion Defi Platiere (Type D'Elle x Nankin) was also away competing, and would have been very interesting to have a look at.

Kylemore

We drove up to the village of Ballyscully, Loughrea, co Galway, the home of Olive and Ivor Broderick’s Kylemore Stud, for our afternoon viewing. The countryside was stunning, with silhouettes of mountains in the distance, and wide skies : the weather, throughout our three days, alternated between showers, and sunshine, with enormous double rainbows often visible in the distance. Were we going to find a treasure of a stallion, we wondered?!

Unfortunately there had been a mix up on times, so that Olive was not able to meet us, but her (very recently appointed) German groom showed us the stallions. Kylemore is a facility that many of us would dream of owning, and spotlessly kept – the groom apologised for the fact that there was a wisp of hay on the floor of the indoor stable block! I was sorry that we were not able to see the new mare block, as Olive had described some of the labour-saving features to me in the spring, including an ingenious system for mucking out!

The first stallion that we saw, Watermill SwatchXX, was the champion stallion at the RDS Dublin Horse Show 2008, and much admired by Bernard le Courtois. He was bred by Jan Greve at the famous Watermolen Stud, and has an impressive pedigree, with his sire the U.S. TB Mytens being an influential sire on the continent and beginning to appear in eventing lists. Watermill Swatch’s first crop of Irish foals were born in 2008, and many of them are already achieving wins in foal shows. He certainly has charisma and a charming “look at me” temperament, and loving his fusses and treats, and being incredibly easy to handle; conformation-wise we felt that while he is a very nice type with an excellent body and topline, he would be more suitably put to a mare with a little more bone, as he is himself slightly on the light side.

VDL Arkansas was brought out for viewing, and to our shame we only looked at him very briefly – unlike Watermill Swatch or the other stallion that we saw, French Buffet, he had very little “Wow” factor, and a rather plain head, though nicely built with a great deal of substance. However, when put to a blood mare he has been achieving outstanding results with his progeny, and he tops the Genetic Evaluation list with the IHB. He had 3 offspring at the World Championships for young horses in Lanaken in 2008, with Ballyshan Arkansas, bred by Paul and Gary Doherty, and Coppindell, both gaining firsts. So beauty is not always in the eye of the beholder!!
 
French Buffet is another venerable stallion – 24 years old – and his pedigree contains the names of some of the greats in US racing – Buckpasser and his sire Tom Fool. He has the attitude of a youngster, is a great favourite of the grooms, and still looks in very fine condition for his age! He was an extremely successful racehorse in Chile, and then after an injury on the track, began his international showjumping career, being placed 5th in the CSI in Arnhem, and 7th in Liege in the CSI 1.40m. His first foals were born in Ireland in 2007, and were immediately scoring sweeping successes in the show ring. He looked a lovely stamp of a horse, full of cheer and enthusiasm.

Womanizer, the handsome Heartbreaker/Burggraaf stallion who we also were keen to see, was away at the stallion gradings at Cavan – an excuse to come back in the spring!

VDL Arkansas
Watermill Swatch

VDL Arkansas

(Acobat II x Silvano)

Watermill Swatch

(Mytens x King)

french buffet

French Buffet xx

(Settlement Day x Prologo)

Past Issues

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