Michael Hickey,

Sunnyhill Stud, Co Kildare

DOYEN was the star stallion at Sunnyhill Stud for many years and his 2022 retirement should no way discourage people from visiting the Kilcullen, Co Kildare, farm next weekend.

Sons of Sea The Stars are having an ever-emerging presence on the National Hunt breeding scene and Sunnyhill Stud boasts one of the best of them in second-season sire Fifty Stars.

Sunnyhill owner Michael Hickey said: “Fifty Stars was an exceptional racehorse. He ran 30 times and attained a winning strike rate of over 30%. He won both at a mile and over nine furlongs and was one of the toughest and one of the fastest. He’s a great option for National Hunt breeders to provide their mares with a bit of speed.

“His first foals arrive on the ground this year and I can’t wait to see his stock. Amongst several others, I’m a firm believer of Sea The Stars being the next sire of National Hunt sires.

“Affinisea is already getting winners on the track and Cloth Of Stars is producing exceptional horses over in France.”

German Derby winner Lucky Speed completes Sunnyhill Stud’s two-horse stallion roster for 2023.

“Lucky Speed has a great pedigree but, unfortunately, he suffered from a lack of support in his first couple of crops. His first runners on the track have suffered as a result but we’re still hopeful he’ll prove himself.

“He’s a horse that’s particularly good-looking and the Stallion Trail is brilliant for swaying the minds of breeders on horses they may not have been considering before their visit,” says Hickey.

To prove his point, Michael talks about the Stallion Trail’s influence on Doyen’s latter years at stud. “People were beginning to wonder about Doyen’s age but, when they saw how well he looked physically, they retained their interests. As much as it helps promote new sires, it does the same for the older ones too.”

Sunnyhill Stud appreciates helping newcomers in the breeding game and enjoys opening its doors to individuals with a passion for breeding.

“Our doors are always open but the Stallion Trail seems to get people visiting who might not have done so on their own accord,” says Michael.

“It encourages individuals with or without broodmares to gain an understanding of stallion physiques, and helps them identify breeding traits and pedigree patterns.

“It always attracts a mixture of newcomers and established breeders and we look forward to meeting as many industry personnel as possible next week.”

Robert Honner,

Clongiffen Stud, Co Meath

YOUNG National Hunt sires Kool Kompany and Austrian School will both be available to view next weekend at Co Meath’s Clongiffen Stud.

Kool Kompany commenced his stallion career in Spain, standing at Dehesa De Milagro Stud for his first three seasons.

He’s currently entering his second season at stud in Ireland and Robert Honner, owner/manager of Clongiffen, commends the Stallion Trail for reminding Irish breeders of his presence. “It’s been a while since Kool Kompany raced in Ireland and he can easily slip people’s minds. He’s back now and this is a fantastic opportunity to remind Irish breeders he’s available.”

Kool Kompany’s first Irish foals will be born in the forthcoming months and Robert is greatly anticipating their arrival, “I can’t wait to see his first Irish foal crop! His progeny in Spain have all had a great presence about them, walked well and hosted good size and bone.”

The premature and tragic passing of Jeremy means Kool Kompany is a rare and unique way to access this sire line; a line that’s produced recent Cheltenham Festival winners Appreciate It and Sir Gerhard.

Robert adds: “Kool Kompany being a son of Jeremy means he offers a lot of opportunity. Jeremy’s stock all seem to have plenty of pace and act on soft ground which is needed in the National Hunt game.”

Austrian School

Austrian School is the second stallion on the Clongiffen roster and his first crop have just turned two. Despite having another two seasons to go before his progeny make their course debuts, Robert is impressed with the individuals he’s produced so far.

“Austrian School has produced strong, powerful and robust foals. I stored a few myself and am thrilled with their size and scope.

“He’s by Teofilo, who is one of only six horses to sire a Group 1 winner in all of his crops to date.”

Austrian School is a half-brother to the five-time Cheltenham Festival winner and dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll, which only adds to his exciting future at stud.

The visit will commence with a stallion parade conducted by Robert and stallion man Tony Flynn.

There will be ample opportunities to converse with Robert and the team about both stallions, as well as the array of breeding services they offer.

Clongiffen typically foal between 30 and 40 mares over the course of the season and Robert says: “We offer great veterinary reproduction services, we’re available for foaling and lining mares up for internal and external stallion covers. We pride ourselves on getting mares in foal.

“Consignment is another Clongiffen service and the Stallion Trail is a great way for breeders to come and see our facilities.”

Mark Byrne,

Coolmore Stud, Co Tipperary

THE visiting slots for Coolmore Stud on Stallion Trail weekend tend to fill up quickly but it’s worth going to the ITM website now to see if you can still nab a spot.

It’s a unique opportunity to get up close to the likes of Wootton Bassett, Camelot, No Nay Never, St Mark’s Basilica, and not forgetting the new boy, Blackbeard.

Coolmore’s Mark Byrne says the Stallion Trail is an important opportunity for the farm to showcase these champions. “It’s not just breeders,” he says. “We get racing fans and even racing staff who might have encountered these horses on the track and want to see them again.”

Some members of the public who come through the famous gates know little about the horses and just want to see behind the scenes, while others seem to know more about the stallions than Coolmore do!

“The questions they ask, the things they remember, they would put you on the back foot!” laughs Mark. “But that’s the beauty of the Stallion Trail – you welcome them all and you never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to learn. It could be someone from Twitter you’ve been following but never met.

“Two years ago, I was chatting to one visitor and discovered by chance he was an international racehorse owner. He could have asked for a private viewing but chose to do the Stallion Trail with everyone else.”

Blackbeard will be one of the first names that visitors will ask for next weekend. “It’s going to be a big year for him as he is being launched,” says Mark, “but it’s also a big year for Calyx, Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia. They all have their first runners in 2023, and we will have the first foals by St Mark’s Basilica any day now too.” CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE ITM IRISH STALLION TRAIL