NEXT Friday, January 28th, will mark the first of three afternoon webinars organised by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. All are welcome to attend as long as you register your intention to attend by emailing in advance.

Editor of The Irish Field, Leo Powell will chair next Friday’s event. It starts at 2pm and is expected to last a little over two hours. The first session is a short one during which John McEnery, Cathy Grassick and myself will give updates on the Association’s plans and activities.

The second session is a 90-minute discussion and it will focus on the issue of thoroughbred registration and the movement of horses across borders. The words Brexit and traceability will pop up frequently, and there will also be some guidance on Value Added Tax.

Bringing the event to a close is a 30-minute session devoted to sustainability, a buzzword for all industries these days. Breeders will receive advice on how to make their farms a little bit more eco-friendly and you might even qualify for grant aid for doing so.

Throughout 2021 the ITBA reviewed the service we provide to breeders and we undertook a strategic review which produced a template for future-proofing the Association.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the many breeders for their invaluable input and assistance during this process. Our review hopes to refine and develop our internal workings, secure the Council and committee structures while improving our engagement with stakeholders.

Next Friday our chairperson John McEnery and I will discuss the challenges facing the Association. We are keen to encourage as many breeders as possible to become more involved.

The last year has caused a lot of anxiety for breeders trying to trade in a Covid environment. If this was not challenging enough, they are also dealing with post-Brexit complications and added costs.

We have received many calls from breeders who are finding it extremely difficult to navigate their way through all the changes and increased administration. With this in mind we have pulled together a stellar panel to discuss these challenges and see if there is any more the ITBA can do to help.

The ITBA and other industry stakeholders have worked tirelessly to address traceability, welfare and anti-doping over the last number of years and we look forward to discussing these issues with HRI’s Director of Welfare & Bloodstock, John Osborne.

This is your opportunity to find out more about legislation, the introduction of the digital passport and the transport and taxation implications of trading in today’s environment.

As an Association we have taken an active role in addressing the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. We are looking at various funding opportunities which will help breeders to carry out an assessment of soil health and carbon calculation, waste management, water quality and existing land usage on stud farms.

As fellow recipients of the Foal Levy, the Irish Equine Centre is doing a lot of work in the area of sustainability and biodiversity and I look forward to Alan Creighton providing an update on best practice and funding opportunities available for breeders everywhere.

This is an election year and we are looking to increase the diversity of our council membership and enhance our regional committees. I would encourage you to get involved in your industry.

Register your intention to attend the webinar by emailing

We need your input!

Please forward your questions, issues or suggestions ahead of next Friday’s webinar to Kerry Ryan.


Tel: 045-877543

Webinar timetable

Friday, January 28th 2pm-4.30pm

MC: Leo Powell

Session 1: ITBA UPDATE

Speakers: John McEnery, Cathy Grassick and Shane O’Dwyer

  • ITBA recent activities and future plans
  • Challenges and opportunities facing Irish breeders
  • Strategic review
  • 2022 elections


    Speakers: Des Leadon (ITBA veterinary consultant), Sharon O’Regan (Weatherbys Ireland), John Osborne (HRI) Kevin Devenney (Grant Thornton) and Ann Munnelly (BBA Ireland)

  • High Health Breeding (HHB) status
  • ePassports
  • Operational requirements and regulations
  • VAT implications
  • Transportation in a post-Brexit environment


    Speakers: Alan Creighton (Irish Equine Centre)

  • Grants and funding streams on offer for breeders across a wide range of biodiversity and sustainable stud farm practices
  • Assistance in accessing grants
  • Irish Equine Centre offerings
  • ITBA climate action plans
  • Who are the speakers?

    LEO POWELL (MC): Leo joined The Irish Field in 2003 and the paper’s editor is a well-known voice at many equine events and symposiums which he regularly chairs. The ITBA is delighted that he has agreed

    to be our webinar host for the afternoon.

    JOHN McENERY: John is the current ITBA chairman and owner of the successful Rossenarra Stud in Kells, Co Kilkenny. Rossenarra Stud is responsible for producing multiple group race winners including Dick Turpin, The Deputy, Heeraat and Halmahera, plus National Hunt stars including Red Rum and Bacchanal. John was elected ITBA chairman in 2020 and continues to represent Irish breeders on a number

    of industry boards.

    CATHY GRASSICK: Cathy is a long-standing member of the ITBA Council and is due to take over the chairmanship of the association in May. Having previously worked alongside her late father Brian for many years, she now co-runs the successful Brian Grassick Bloodstock agency with her mother Sheila. The agency has been responsible for purchasing many high-class horses such as Grandeur, Klassique and

    Majestic Queen.

    SHANE O’DWYER: Shane is the Chief Executive Officer of the ITBA and oversees the day-to-day operations of the organisation, its people and resources. Shane implements the strategy approved by the ITBA Council and ensures that the association’s structure and processes meet the strategic and cultural needs of the ITBA and Irish breeders.

    DES LEADON: Des is the Clinical Consultant with the Irish Equine Centre. He is presently veterinary advisor to many recognised breeding associations at national, European and international level.

    He was appointed to the Equine Liaison Group of the Department of Agriculture and also serves as Ireland’s representative on the Code of Practice Committee and on the Animal Health Trust Industry Liaison Committee.

    With his wife Dr Mariann Klay, he owns and runs the successful Swordlestown Little Stud in Punchestown, Co Kildare.

    SHARON O’REGAN: Sharon is General Manager of Weatherbys Ireland, having succeeded Russell Ferris who in 2019 became CEO of Weatherbys. Sharon was previously Head of Operations at Weatherbys Ireland, a role that amongst other things involved the digitalisation of the General Stud Book and deployment of large-scale digital projects in Ireland, UK, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

    Sharon is a Council Member of the European and South African Studbook Committee and is also a Stud Book Regional Reviewer, a role which sees her supporting international stud books on matters of governance, compliance and data integrity.

    JOHN OSBORNE: A veterinary surgeon, John is Horse Racing Ireland’s Director of Equine Welfare and Bloodstock since 2020. John was previously CEO of the Irish

    National Stud for 10 years. He also sits on the board of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing.

    KEVIN DEVENNEY: Kevin is a Director with advisory firm Grant Thornton, specialising in indirect tax. He has advised on all areas of VAT with a particular focus on the property and consumer business sectors. He has a wealth of experience advising government bodies on mergers, the VAT treatment of their supplies, VAT processes and maximising their VAT recovery position. In addition, he is co-author of VAT on Property, the leading text on Irish VAT on Property, published by the

    Irish Taxation Institute.

    ANN MUNNELLY: Ann is Director of Transport with BBA Ireland. She has spent her working life in the horse transport industry. Ann manages the BBA Ireland Shipping Office and overseas the company’s shipments throughout the world.

    ALAN CREIGHTON: Alan is Head of Environment & Nutrition at the Irish Equine Centre. He was was educated at the CBS Naas and

    received his degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the Dublin Institute of Technology.

    He joined the IEC in June 1995 to work in the Microbiology unit. He took up the role of the Environmental Scientist in 1999, and as Head of Environment and Nutrition in late 2017.

    Alan works with trainers and stud owners at home and internationally on all aspects of equine biosecurity, nutrition and performance. He is a former show jumper and has a massive interest in all aspects of thoroughbred racing, is a keen breeder and pinhooker.