Robert McCarthy,

The Beeches, Lismore,

Co Waterford

VISITORS to The Beeches Stud in Lismore, Co Waterford, next weekend will see some well-known stallions, including four yet to have a runner.

Mahler and Soldier Of Fortune are the proven horses, sires respectively of high-class handicap chasers The Big Dog and Early Doors.

Wings Of Eagles’ first Irish crop have only just turned three and it will be a while before Crystal Ocean, Idaho, In Swoop and Mogul have a chance to prove themselves.

Stud manager Robert McCarthy is in no doubt that Crystal Ocean is the star name on the roster. “We’re blessed to have him, the highest-rated horse ever to be retired straight to a National Hunt stud,” he says.

By Sea The Stars, Crystal Ocean was an immediate hit at the sales with his progeny. In November 2021, one of his first foals fetched €120,000 at Tattersalls Ireland. That price was actually bettered by Crystal Ocean yearlings twice at this year’s Tattersalls October Book 1 Sale. Andrew Balding paid 135,000gns for one colt and Charlie Gordon-Watson gave 115,000gns for another.

Another nine Crystal Ocean foals made €50,000 or more at the 2022 National Hunt sales.

As last year’s Stallion Trail was ‘industry only’, this will be the first opportunity for some visitors to see In Swoop and Mogul, who are about to start their second year at stud. “They both covered big books of mares last year,” Robert reports. “Mogul is very good-looking. He cost 3.5 million guineas as a yearling. He’s a big, strong horse, ideal for National Hunt.

“In Swoop is by the late Adlerflug, and breeders are very keen on that German blood.”

Now aged 19, Mahler continues to produce quality winners. Robert brings us up to date: “He had that Grade 2 novice chase winner on New Year’s Day, The Real Whacker.”

Robert is a highly successful breeder. Recent winners include Becher Chase scorer Ashtown Lad, the prolific Minella Drama and the stud also bred wide-margin bumper winner Wrappedupinmay.

At Goffs last month Robert paid €180,000 to acquire Grade 2 winner Royal Kahala, already in foal to Crystal Ocean.

Mares are foaled at nearby Springfield Farm and The Beeches takes a very small number of full-time boarders. “The vast majority of covers are walk-ins now,” Robert says. “Their own vet lines them up at home and they are only here for a few minutes and gone again. It’s all very different to years ago.”

Key members of The Beeches team include Peter Kenneally (“He has been here for almost 40 years, the mainstay of the place”), Ed Magnier, James Tobin, and John Kenneally does an important job looking after the stud’s cattle and sheep.

“The Stallion Trail is a very positive way to showcase our horses and farm,” Robert says. “We look forward to it every year and we always have plenty of visitors. Mostly they are breeders or people who follow racing closely, but everyone is welcome.

“The normal routine is we greet the arrivals, give them a brochure and have a general chat before we show them any stallions they want to see. Flemensfirth is retired but he is still here, in good health, and people ask for him.

“We’ll offer visitors some refreshments and, if they are breeders, we might chat about their breeding plans.”

Eamon Moloney,

Kildangan Stud, Monasterevin, Co Kildare

“WHEN Ghaiyyath comes out, people stop talking,” says Eamon Moloney, nominations manager at Kildangan Stud.

Eamon is in no doubt who the star will be during the Stallion Trail. “Ghaiyyath will be the main attraction, given his impressive foal sales and the fact he is a world champion. He’s a horse people know and they like to see.

“He’s a great-looking horse and he has that swagger. I always said Teofilo can walk like no other horse but Ghaiyyath outwalks him!”

It’s not a one-horse town, by any means. There are nine horses on the 2023 roster at Kildangan and they are expected to cover approximately 1,200 mares between them this year.

“Night Of Thunder is rising through the ranks and he is on his way to becoming an elite stallion. He and Ghaiyyath would be the two biggest draws,” Eamon reckons. “Hopefully our new arrival Naval Crown will draw plenty of attention too.”

Another very well-known inmate is Blue Point. “He will have his first runners in 2023, so this is a huge year for him. He’s a record-breaking Royal Ascot winner, so he’s very popular with breeders and racing fans.”

Eamon will be joined by Anthony O’Donnell and Tom Fogarty in showing visitors the stallions next weekend.

“Once we have sufficient numbers together in a group we begin a stallion show in the yard. We give a commentary on each one and answer any question the public might have. There’s always a bit of hospitality on offer too. Typically a visit lasts about an hour and a quarter. We don’t extend the tour any further than the stallion yard as it would just be too hard to manage.”

Eamon believes the social side of the Stallion Trail is massive. “The biggest thing is the people getting a chance to meet each other. A lot of breeders come at other times of the season to see the stallions but then they come back for the Stallion Trail to meet other breeders. It’s great for the social side.

“As well as breeders, we get plenty of new people coming through the gate for the first time, just to get a look inside. We’ve even had scenarios where those first-timers have been converted into clients, so it’s great for mingling, for public relations and for business too. Before Covid, you’d get plenty of families coming along and hopefully they will return now that restrictions have been lifted.”