THE very last day of an unforgettable year brought news of the passing of Janine Sebag-Montefiore, arguably Ireland’s most glamorous owner and breeder of her time.
Educated at Wycombe Abbey School, she made her debut entry in the 1967 Directory of the Turf, listing her trainers as Fulke Walwyn, Ted Curtin and Paddy Sleator. At that time Janine owned Bruree Stud, Co Limerick, home to her 14 broodmares.
Janine provided a brief history of Bruree Stud. ‘Founded in 1890 approx. and produced the Derby winners Galtee More (1897) and Ard Patrick (1902). Since then it has always been a stud, and in November 1965 it was purchased by the present owner from Lady Ursula Vernon, who had Hugh Lupus here.’
Janine’s purchase of Bruree coincided with her 30th birthday. Bruree was run as a commercial venture, yearlings being consigned to the Newmarket Houghton Sales.
While Janine’s eye-catching ‘Red and white stripes; red sleeves, blue and white hooped cap’ were carried by many successful runners, her outstanding performer was Irish Imp.
Bought by Janine having won the 1962 Imperial Cup Hurdle for Epsom trainer Ron Smyth, Irish Imp joined Fulke Walwyn in Lambourn for his ‘chasing career. Successful favourite at Newbury, he went agonisingly close at the Cheltenham Festival where he and stable jockey Willie Robinson were narrowly beaten by Ben Stack and Pat Taaffe.
Back at Cheltenham in April Irish Imp and Willie went down by a head to Dormant.
In the 1963-’64 season Irish Imp and Willie ran up a four-timer, at Wetherby and Newbury (three times). The partnership went on winning until 1966.
Latterly Janine Sebag-Montefiore went to live in Ballymore Eustace. Co Kildare, her broodmare band reduced to one. Nevertheless, she continued to see her colours carried prominently by such as Andretti and Lipizzaner, trained by Ted Curtin, her long-time companion.