THERE is a great degree of synchronicity about what I am going to tell you.

This weekend, 20 years ago, I celebrated my birthday, and wrote my first editorial for The Irish Field. The content of that first attempt can be found on page 19. I believe that we have achieved much of what we set out to do, though many of the sentiments are still applicable.

Today, Saturday, September 23rd, I have reached the age of 66. One of the few advantages of growing older, and becoming what I will call a senior, is that I will be able to enjoy the luxury of free train travel within Ireland; so if you live near a railway station, be forewarned. I could be on my way!

On a more serious note, for me at least, this is my last editorial in The Irish Field. If my maths is correct, it is my 1,045th. I have never missed one.

Was it written in the stars that the 20th anniversary of the first one would fall on a significant birthday? I do believe in serendipity, so maybe this was meant to be.

For those of you who know me through my writing only, I hope you have understood the passion I have for the paper, for racing and breeding, and increasingly for many areas of the sport horse industry. The many of you who know me personally will understand too well what The Irish Field means to me. It has been my life for 20 years, and it will hopefully be so until the end.

I am categorically not retiring, but I am changing direction a little. Again, I have given much of my energy for two decades to representing The Irish Field, and the industry I adore, and that will continue, but in a different guise. I vacate the editor’s chair but am taking a more comfortable seat, that of contributing editor. This will allow me to focus more on writing, something that I grew to love more than I ever imagined I would during the horrible pandemic time.

Many of the columns I currently pen will continue, especially the important breeding section. My idea for a breeder of the month and breeder of the year competition, so willingly embraced by Joe Connolly in Red Mills back in early 2005, will still be my baby.


As this is my last editorial, or comment piece, I am using the opportunity to express a couple of appreciations.

The team at The Irish Field is remarkably small in number, and this has always fostered the feeling of being part of a family. Many colleagues have graduated from that role to become close friends. Mark Costello, who will take on the role of editor, has been with me here since the very start, while Brendan McArdle was not far behind.

Margaret O’Connor was also one of the starting team, and Domhnall Dervan in production has been a stalwart. There are many more who deserve mention, and I apologise for any omission, but they know what their support and friendship has meant, and will continue to mean. I am not going away.

I leave the editor’s role just weeks after Isabel Hurley did so in the Irish Horse World, and my tribute to her and her team at the time says it all.

Did I ever know what was ahead of me when Matt Dempsey asked me to lunch in 2003, during the time that the Agricultural Trust was in the process of purchasing The Irish Field? My career, from the time I left school in the summer of 1976 until then, centred on bloodstock sales, firstly at Ballsbridge International Bloodstock Sales, later Tattersalls Ireland, and then with Goffs.

I feel blessed that friends from then are still friends today, and I believe it says much about the equine and equestrian worlds that we are basically one large family.


What about the future for Leo Powell? Well, I will remain a large part of your week’s reading with my commitments to The Irish Field.The intensity of that work will hopefully subside a little, and open up some other vistas. If you know me, you will appreciate that I am a people person, and I hope to explore some projects that might benefit from my assistance or input.

My love for my family, the arts, theatre, music and books will be fully exploited, while family and friends can start readying beds for sleepovers. Any extra time on my hands will not be wasted.

I do like the phrase “life is a journey, not a destination. This is not goodbye, it’s just a part of the journey.” Thank you for your support until now, and I look forward to it even more as I begin what is simply a new chapter in a business I cherish.