Article Date: 26-June-2012
The Haefner family and Moyglare Stud announced on Tuesday that their patriarch Walter Haefner has passed away peacefully in Switzerland.
A Zurich native, born in 1910, the 101 year old Haefner, a gifted businessman and visionary philanthropist, was a true sportsman at heart with a deep and abiding love for the breeding of thoroughbred racehorses and the techniques and science of racing.
Advised by his doctor at a relatively late age to take up riding, Haefner chose Amateur flat racing and pursued this with typically energetic dedication, winning the Fegentri Champion Amateur Championship in 1963.
A consummate businessman, the horses were his escape and a corner of Ireland became his enduring passion. A great fan of Irish sport horses, Haefner first came to Ireland to buy a show-jumper. A delayed flight, a chance meeting in a Dublin hotel, a few Irish whiskies and Haefner went home with an Irish stud farm. That was 1962, and Moyglare Stud was born.
Loyalty and longevity, throughout both business and personal life, are attributes frequently associated with Haefner, but few relationships proved as durable as his over half century friendship with his Irish stud manager Stan Cosgrove. Together they put together one of the finest private “boutique” stud’s in the world.
A firm believer that the strength in the pedigree comes from the quality of the broodmare, and that the ultimate test for any racehorse is racecourse competition, Haefner stuck to this doctrine throughout the stud’s development, acquiring, often in the USA, top class race mares such as Grenzen (ancestress of Refuse To Bend and Casual Conquest),Talking Picture (ancestress of Trusted Partner, Dress To Thrill and recent Group winner Sapphire) and Aptostar, acquired by manager Cosgrove for the stud at Fasig-Tipton in 1989.
As ever, Haefner looked forward to a fancied runner at Ascot, and Princess Highway’s 6 length romp in last week’s Ribblesdale Stakes, emulating her dam, Irresistible Jewel, 10 years earlier, and as 3rd and 4th generation descendants of the aforesaid Aptostar, encapsulates all that Haefner stood for and believed in and her win stands as a testament to the stud.
Always an internationalist, Haefner thrived on top class international competition, and was enthusiastically supported in this for almost 40 years by principal trainer Dermot Weld and his two long time retained jockeys, firstly Michael Kinane and currently Pat Smullen.
The famous black, red and white colours have been carried to victory across the world, often in groundbreaking trips. Go and Go’s Belmont win remains the only US Classic win by a European trained horse, Additional Risk won the inaugural Hong Kong Bowl, and the colours have been carried to victory throughout Europe, across the USA and in Canada. Moyglare bred’s winning landmark races in Japan (Stanerra) and Australia (Media Puzzle), was also a source of great satisfaction. Top race-course competition was what was important.
The Derby was always a goal, the ultimate test, and following Speaking Of Which’s 9 length Gallinule Stakes win a few weeks ago, Haefner was excited about his prospects for the Irish Derby. An accomplished amateur jockey himself, and a keen judge of style, when Casual Conquest went to Epsom as favourite in 2008, his enthusiasm to discuss plans and tactics with his trainer and jockey, illustrated a rare event, where the owner/breeder, trainer and jockey have all ridden competitively around Epsom’s unique course.
In recent years, Walter Haefner, was overjoyed to share his passion, Moyglare Stud, with his daughter Eva-Maria, and her children Chiara and Mischa, who are all now regular and infectiously enthusiastic supporters at Irish racecourses. Eva, just like her father, is the first to thank the staff when a winner, and is the best of losers, and with her father’s guidance, is now firmly in charge of the reins and Walter Haefner’s great love, Moyglare Stud, has a very bright future.
A great supporter of Irish racing, an honorary Turf Club member and unheralded benefactor of vital organisations such as RACE and the Equine Centre, Haefner’s own personal tribute to excellence in his favourites, the Group 1 fillies, is the Moyglare Stud Stakes, and the 40th running of this special race will be September 9th at the Curragh.
This year is of course the 50 year celebration of the stud, and those celebrations will continue. Following in her father’s footsteps, Eva sponsored a series of breeders' awards for winning fillies and mares in Ireland this year, called the Moyglare 50. Proving very popular, these races will take on an added poignancy now. A memorial service for the life and times of Walter Haefner will be held in Ireland at some later date to be advised.
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