HOW have Irish-breds fared to date in 2022’s five-star events? Kentucky was disappointing as just one finished in the top-10 in seventh place: the Francis Brennan-bred Dondante (Pacino x Euro Clover).

Incidentally, the same horse was named as Will Coleman’s reserve horse for next week’s eventing world championships at Pratoni del Vivaro (September 15th-18th). Two Irish Sport Horses - Will Coleman’s main horse, Off The Record and Ariel Grald’s Leamore Master Plan - are named on that USA team.

Both horses also recorded good five-star form this season with Off The Record (VDL Arkansas x Ard Ohio. Breeder: Peter G. Brady) 12th at Kentucky while Leamore Master Plan (Master Imp x Cavalier Royale. Michael Byrne) finished 15th at Badminton.

Irish fortunes improved at Badminton with 50% of its top 10 bred here: Swallow Springs (Third. Chillout x Cult Hero. Breeder: Maria Keating), Vanir Kamira (Fourth. Camiro de Haar Z x Dixi. Kate Jackson), Ballaghmor Class (Fifth. Courage II. Noel Hickey), Colorado Blue (Eighth. Jaguar Mail x Rock King. Kate Jarvey) and Alfie’s Clover (10th. Tajraasi x Clover Hill. James Hickey).


Two of those Badminton top-10 horses were noticeably absent last weekend as both Ballaghmor Class, the 2017 Burghley and 2021 Kentucky winner, and the Kate Jarvey-bred Colorado Blue, best of the Irish team at Tokyo with Austin O’Connor, will also line out at the world championships next week.

On to Luhmühlen, Germany’s sole five-star event, where four Irish-breds featured in the top-10: Cooley Quicksilver (Fifth. Womanizer x Creggan Diamond. Breeder: Alan O’Brien), SRS Kan Do (Sixth. VDL Arkansas x Touchdown. Michael Dooner), WSF Carthago (Seventh. Cobra x Viking. Frank Mulvihill) and Lukas (Eighth. Lux Z x Roi Danzig. Lulu Parkhill).

So a good five-star season for Irish-breds with three more - Maryland International, Pau and Adelaide - still to run and just made even better by Vanir Kamira’s historic win.

Burghley top 10 bloodlines

1. Vanir Kamira (ISH). 2005 mare by Camiro De Haar Z (ZANG) - Fair Caledonian (WNTR), by Dixi (TB). Breeder: Kate Jackson. Rider: Piggy March (GB).

2. Capels Hollow Drift (ISH). 2011 gelding by Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan Z (BWP) - Lucky Crest (ISH), by Lucky Gift (TB). Breeder: Jenny Glynn. Rider: Tom Jackson (GB).

3. Vitali (HOLST). 2010 gelding by Contender (HOLST) - Noble Lady I, by Heraldik (TB). Breeder: Günther Fielmann. Rider: Tim Price (NZ).

4. Classic Moet (SHB(GB). 2003 mare by Classic (TB) - Gamston Bubbles, by Bohemond (TB). Breeder: Elaine Hepworth. Rider: Jonelle Price (NZ).

5. Topspin (AES). 2008 gelding by Zento (KWPN) - Capriati (TB), by El Conquistador (TB). Breeder: W.D Casburn. Rider: Alice Casburn (GB).

6. Vendredi Biats (SF). 2009 gelding by Winningmood (BWP) - Liande Normande (SF), by Camellia de Ruelles (SF). Breeder: Philippe Brivois. Rider: Kitty King (GB).

7. Alfies Clover (ISH). 2007 gelding by Tajraasi (TB) - Aoife’s Clover, by Clover Hill (ID). Breeder: James Hickey. Rider: Richard Jones (GB).

8. Billy Walk On (AES). 2009 gelding by Billy Mexico (AES) - Shannon Line (ISH), by Golden Bash (TB). Breeder: Donal Barnwell. Rider: Pippa Funnell (GB).

9. Liberty And Glory (SHB(GB). 2007 mare by Caretino Glory (BWP) - Little Runnymede (TB), by Ginger Boy (TB). Breeder: Mrs. P. Balfour. Rider: Tom Crisp (GB).

10. Daytona Beach 8 (OLD). 2010 mare by Duke of Hearts (TB) - Sandance (OLD), by Santander H (OLD). Dr. Rolf Lueck. Rider: Cornelia Dorr (USA).

Did you know?

  • Vanir Kamira and Headley Britannia (2007) are the only mares to win Burghley in this millenium, as well as having completed a rare Badminton-Burghley double.
  • Others in this elite group include Merely-A-Monarch, M’Lord Connolly, Warrior, George, Beagle Bay, Master Craftsman, Priceless, Star Appeal, Primmore’s Pride, Moonfleet,Tamarillo and La Biosthetique Sam FBW.
  • Vanir Kamira won Badminton in 2019, the first year the event ran as the new five-star classification.
  • Most recent thoroughbred winner at Burghley? Parklane Hawk, back in 2011 with William Fox-Pitt. The same New Zealand-bred also won at Kentucky in 2012.
  • Classic Moet, seven-eighths thoroughbred/one-eighth Shire, was the oldest horse at Burghley.
  • Dr. Rolf Lueck, who bred the highest-placed American horse - Daytona Beach 8 - also bred Ingrid Klimke’s medal-winning superstar SAP Hale Bob.
  • Burghley and Kentucky were the best hunting grounds for Irish-breds in the past 10 events. Which horses won where? Ballaghmor Class (2021), Cooley Master Class (2018, 2019) and Bay My Hero (2014) are the Kentucky winners; Vanir Kamira won Badminton in 2019, five years after Paulank Brockagh’s victory; Mr Cruise Control was the sole Irish-bred winner at Luhmühlen (2013) and Vanir Kamira now joins MGH Grafton Street (2019), Ringwood Sky Boy (2018) and Ballaghmor Class (2017) on the roll call of Irish-bred Burghley champions.
  • Grey gene: both Capels Hollow Drift and Alfie’s Clover colour is inherited from their grey dams. Lucky Crest is a Sea Crest grand-daughter while Hail Station is the grand-sire of Aoife’s Clover.
  • Sea Crest is the sire of 2010 Burghley winner Lenamore and grandsire of 2013 Luhmühlen winner Mr Cruise Control.
  • 11th-placed Pencos Crown Jewel’s sire is Jumbo, bred by the late Archie Smith-Maxwell. He found Jumbo’s sire Skippy (Legaun Prince x Final Problem) in Mayo with the Niland family.
  • Jumbo is the Burghley top sire with four win: Headley Britannia and three-time winner Avebury (2012-2014).
  • Another Irish link is found in Billy Walk On’s pedigree as Donal Barnwell bred him out of the Golden Bash-Bassompierre-Seven Bells mare Shannon Line.
  • Both third-placed Vitali and Kentucky winner fischerChipmunk are by Contender, a three-time WBFSH leading event sire.
  • Tajraasi, Alfie’s Clover’s thoroughbred sire, is a full-brother to Faugheen and Samcro’s sire, Germany.
  • To the next generation and Redinagh Stud’s Cavalier Land (Cavalier Royale x Imperius x Highland Flight) produced three of the top-10 in the Burghley four-year-old final: Cooley Clover Land (Second. Dam: Clover Light Girl, by Clover Hill. Breeder: Peter Rice); Monbeg Lands (Sixth. Heros Socks, by Cult Hero. Michael Byrne) and Lagans Ricardo Boy (Seventh. Ricardo Z Lagan. Peter Rice).
  • By the numbers

    28 - Burghley finishers.

    19 - years old and the only cross-country round within the time. Classic Moet lives up to her name.

    13 - Irish-breds in the top-10 this year between Kentucky, Badminton, Luhmühlen and Burghley.

    4 - mares in the Burghley top-10: Vanir Kamira, Classic Moet, Liberty And Glory and Daytona Beach 8.

    3 - five-star wins for Courage II offspring from the 10 most recent five-star events: Ballaghmor Class (Burghley, Kentucky) and Ringwood Sky Boy (Burghley).

    2 - rare show jumping clears last Sunday were recorded by the pair of Irish-bred greys: Capels Hollow Drift and Alfie’s Clover.

    1 - Traditional Irish Horse in the Burghley top-10: Alfie’s Clover.

    What they said

    “What is there left to say? No, it hasn’t sunk in yet and may not ever! It’s a phenomenal achievement for all involved.

    ‘Tilly’ looked so very good on all the day and she made the cross-country look easy. She never seems to ask any questions, just gets on with the job, no matter how daunting.

    “I’m eternally grateful that she fell into the right hands with Trevor Dickens and Piggy March.” Kate Jackson, Vanir Kamira’s breeder.

    “Words cannot describe the feeling. There were tears of pure joy and relief after cross-country and on Sunday, well, elation! The partnership between ‘Walshy’ (aka Capels Hollow Drift) and Tom is very special, they just click.

    “Every breeder dreams of results like this and I am honoured. I must also congratulate fellow Banner breeder Gerry Lynch on breeding Oughterard Cooley, ridden by Wills Oakden, and placed 13th at his first five-star.

    “The future is bright!” Jenny Glynn, Capels Hollow Drift’s breeder.

    “My father is delighted, he’s very happy with Alfie’s Clover. It’s a very good horse that will compete in three sports in three days and then to have two clear rounds cross-country and showjumping. It would be an exceptional horse really that could do it when you see the size of the cross-country fences”. Benny Hickey, son of Alfie’s Clover breeder James.

    Alfie’s hour

    WITH Kate Jackson and Jenny Glynn already part of the Breeders’ 10 series, another upcoming addition is James Hickey, who bred the third Irish-bred in the Burghley top-10: Alfie’s Clover.

    With James away for a day out at Tallow Fair on Monday, it was son Benny who filled in more details for now.

    “The family have been breeding horses for as long as I can remember. I’m at home farming on the family farm, we have dairy cows, sheep and keep a couple of mares as well. We have three mares, they’re three-quarter sisters to Alfie’s Clover,” Benny explained.

    “Daddy bred Aoife’s Clover, she’s named after my sister Aoife. He gave years going to Philip Heenan, many times I went with him for a spin. We had some fun up there, he was a great old character was Philip!

    “We sold Alfie’s Clover as a three-year-old in Goresbridge. Richard Jones [his rider] bought him and the year after, we sold his brother again but that horse broke his leg. Seemingly he was very promising as well and then the following year, we lost the mare.”

    When did the family first learn of Alfie’s Clover climb up the ranks to five-star, including another seventh place result at Burghley in 2018?

    “In fairness, Richard, the man who bought him, he always kept in contact with us. He’s after buying a couple more off us since, all Alfie’s breed and the first year the horse went to Burghley, Richard brought Mammy and Daddy over to see him there. They went over and stayed with him for the week.

    “We were watching it last weekend, I got [subscription service] Burghley TV and we saw the cross-country and show jumping. He just seems to be a very consistent horse. It’s unbelievable to have one do well at Burghley.”

    Next week: Eventing world championship legends.