YEAR 13 proved lucky for some owners last week when the Horse Sport Ireland stallion inspections took place over two days at Cavan Equestrian Centre.

It was a different atmosphere from last year with the inspections once again open to the public and with several keen Irish Draught enthusiasts from the UK back among the onlookers on the first day.

Wednesday was primarily for Irish Draught entries with some Irish Sport Horse (ISH) studbook candidates also forward in the mid-afternoon.

Once the final batch of the 22 Irish Draughts was completed, it was noticeable how spectator numbers dropped and just a handful of onlookers present the following day.

Some 44 stallions were at Cavan, one more than last year’s figure. The first approved stallion this year was Seamus Sloyan’s home-bred King Elvis I from the second batch on Wednesday morning. (See Breeders 10 on page 91 for the first of the profiles on the successful Irish breeders at Cavan).

Four more Irish Draught stallions gained Class 1 status (six in 2021), including Thomas Duffy’s Dernahatten Vision; John Geoghegan’s Rosetown Rambler (also awarded a bronze merit); Paul O’Neill’s Highfield Tornado; and Siorcha Redmond and John Roseingrave’s Murrisk The Holy Grail (2017).

Rosetown Rambler with Gabriel Slattery \ Laurence Dunne

There was much interest in Ann Lambert’s entry Ashfield Bouncer, the purebred Draught that won last year’s three-year-old loose performance championship at Dublin. However, he failed to sufficiently impress this year’s panel in the breed type and conformation sections.

Another Irish Draught – Ciaran Moriarty’s Black Dancer – was approved in the Irish Sport Horse studbook.

ISH Studbook

Three stallions were approved this year for the Irish Sport Horse studbook: Deirdre Reilly’s Finnegan D (awarded a three-star rating for his own show jumping performance); the Drumhowan Stud-based Zapatero VDL (rated three-star for his own and four-star for his progeny’s show jumping performance), plus the only pony forward this year: Sharon Walsh’s Pineview Junior Boss.

Deirdre Reilly’s Finnegan D (KWPN), presented by Peter Flanagan, was approved at last week's HSI stallion inspections in Cavan \ Laurence Dunne

Michael Pender’s Madgeslane Luidam returned to move up from his Stage 1 status gained last year to Stage 2 (Preliminary Approved) and the second successful Stage 2 candidate was Ronan Rothwell’s Boleybawn Alvaro.

Anne Marie Pender with her parents Michael and Bernie and their home-bred stallion Madgeslane Luidam who was preliminary approved \ Laurence Dunne

From 16 Stage 1 hopefuls, Sandra Duffy’s Like A Star, Andrea Etter’s Mr Connery B, Darragh Ryan’s As You Want Z and the sole successful traditional-bred: Susan Malee’s Carrabeg The Full Irish passed this step.


The low levels of spectators and breeders at the Cavan stallion inspections is on a par with the Irish Horse Board AGM.

In her excellent article “Did You Go To Your Local Stallion Inspection?” featured in the 1984 Irish Draught Horse Yearbook, (the front cover is graced by Sean Walshe’s Fast Woman, whose son Fast Silver featured in several Class 1 bloodlines at Cavan), Sally Begg wrote then about the apathy towards stallion inspections.

Why these levels of disinterest exist, what return owners will receive for going through the inspection process with their stallion, the perennial debate of whether there’s room for two types – traditional and modern - within a native breed, are, as always, food for thought and permanent debate.

Siorcha Redmond and John Roseingrave’s Murrisk The Holy Grail was awarded Class 1 status in Cavan \ Laurence Dunne

Cavan snippets

  • The inspectors on this year’s Sport Horse panel were Ned Campion, Maurice Coleman, Jack Doyle, Andrew Gardiner, Michael Kirwan, John Ledingham (chairperson), Alastair Pim, Chris Ryan and Philip Scott.
  • Gillian Black, John Corbett, Liam Cotter, Adrian Hurst, Michael Kirwan, Charlotte Moore (chairperson), John Newborough and Ger O’Sullivan inspected the Irish Draught entries.
  • 2019 was the most recent year in which a thoroughbred candidate – Tommy McMahon’s Glen Moss - was approved at Cavan.
  • Stallion entries by the numbers

    43 – Stallions presented

    22 – Irish Draughts

    13 – Irish Sport Horses

    7 – Continental-foaled

    1 – pony

    0 – thoroughbreds

    Provisional results



    Deirdre Reilly’s Finnegan D (KWPN. 2010). Singapore (Holst) x Cassini I.

    VDL Stud & Eamonn McArdle’s Zapatero VDL (KWPN. 2007). Chin Chin (HOLST x Ircolando (KWPN).


    Ciaran Moriarty’s Black Dancer (IDC2. 2011) Laurelview Dancer (IDC1) x Ard Grandpa (IDC1).


    Sharon Walsh’s Pineview Junior Boss (ISP. 2019) Boss Junior (DR) x Stanley Grange Regal Heights (BRP).


    Ronan Rothwell’s Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH. 2018) Dominator 2000 Z (ZANG) x Crown Z (ZANG).

    Michael Pender’s Madgeslane Luidam (ISH. 2018). Luidam (KWPN) x O.B.O.S Quality 004 (OLD).

    STAGE 1

    Darragh Ryan’s As You Want Z (ZANG). 2017) Atomic Z (SF)x Calvaro (HOLST).

    Susan Malee’s Carrabeg The Full Irish (ISH. [TIH] 2019). Ardcolum Duke (ISH) x Flexible (ISH).

    Sandra Duffy’s Like A Star (KWPN). 2016). Big Star (KWPN) x Stakkato (HANN).

    Andrea Etter’s Mr Connery B (ISH). 2018). Ganesh Hero Z (ZANG) x O-Piloth (KWPN).



    Sharon Walsh’s Pineview Junior Boss.


    CLASS 1

    Thomas Duffy’s Dernahatten Vision (2018). Dunsandle Diamond (IDC1) x Drumhowan Gold (IDC1).

    John Geoghegan’s Rosetown Rambler (2017). Fast Silver (IDC1) x Echo King (IDC1). *Bronze Merit.

    Paul O’Neill’s Highfield Tornado (2016). Ballyhoura Breeze (IDC2) x Kildalton Gold (IDC1).

    Siorcha Redmond & John Roseingrave’s Murrisk The Holy Grail (2017). Inisfree The Holy Grail (IDC1) x Agherlow (IDC1).

    Seamus Sloyan’s King Elvis I (2019). King Elvis (IDC1) x Fast Silver (IDC1).

    What they said:

    Vinnie Duffy - “It [jumping under saddle phase] was very fair for four-year-olds but I thought it asked a bigger question for five-year-olds, especially if you had one that was just broken. The people doing the loose jumping, led by Brendan Doyle, were very professional, you wouldn’t see it anywhere else in the world.”

    Sonja Egan, HSI Interim Director of Breeding, Innovation and Development - “This year was a welcome return for our equestrian community to view the HSI stallion selections following a challenging two years. We had some lovely Irish Draught stallions presented this year, five of which met the criteria for Class 1. We were presented with a great selection of performance and younger sport horse stallions seeking classification in the Irish Sport Horse studbook. We wish them all the best of luck for the upcoming breeding season.

    “For the first time, several stallion owners selected to present their four-year-old stallions under saddle through a bespoke jumping course structure. I was delighted to see this process work well and forge the path for stallion owners who may wish to select the four-year-old ridden option in future.

    “I must commend the Horse Sport Ireland breeding team, our placement students from the University of Limerick and University College Dublin, Teagasc ISH Young Breeders, inspectors, arena party and wider support team for their execution of a professional and most enjoyable event.”

    Andrea Etter - “Very pleased with how our home-bred stallion Mr Connery B performed and passed Stage 1 of the inspections. This son of Ganesh Hero Z reminds me of his father a lot in how he was as a four-year-old.”

    Ann Lambert - “l was speechless for a change but not surprised. He [Ashfield Bouncer] will be true to type, probably in two years’ time. Draughts are meant to be short-coupled for type, he is a short-coupled horse and will develop bone with time.

    “He scored 60 [for type], he needs 65 to pass. He got 60 for conformation and needs 65. He might not be a show horse but he’s active and not an incorrectly made horse. Killinick Bouncer [his sire] passed with 21cms bone and ended up having 23cms of bone. I like a quality Draught to breed a performer, not one to shake the ground.”

    Comdt. John Ledingham - “We saw variety in the type of horses coming forward for inspection. We would like to thank the breeders, owners and handlers for presenting these young stallions to the inspection panels. The general standard of presentation was quite high. There were some very impressive bloodlines presented that should make high performing sport horses.

    “The future of the national herd is only as good as the quality of horse coming forward for selection and we were pleased with the horses that achieved the Approved, Preliminary Approved and Stage 1 status.”

    Gladys McArdle -“We felt that the inspection process was more ‘fine-tuned’ on the day this year. It was a much quicker process from check-in to inspector reports. This was good.

    “It’s a costly process and sometimes, we do wonder is it worthwhile though? We have consistently presented stallions over the years, however we see stallions never presented at our own stud being as well, and maybe more, supported than Approved stallions. It’s rather ironic!

    “However, the Irish Draught stallion is the exception - Class 1 status does hold decent respect. Not one thoroughbred presented this year, again no incentive for owners to present these stallions!

    “The show jumping stallion Zapatero VDL is a recent arrival to us from VDL Stud. An imposing model, he got the formal recognition, when awarded 4* status for his progeny performance by HSI. He possibly was the only proven performance sire presented at the stallion inspection this year! As HSI evolves now, let’s hope that stallion approvals will become more attractive to both stallion owners, breeders and spectators in the near future!”

    Dr. Charlotte Moore - “We had a really good number of Irish Draught candidates come forward for inspection, representing a range of types. Some very nice individuals achieved the high standard of conformation, movement, athleticism, and type required to achieve Class 1.

    “We welcomed the inclusion of a highly regarded inspector [John Newborough] from Great Britain on the inspection panel this year. Credit is due to the owners and handlers for the high standard of turnout, preparation and presentation of the horses on the day. A special word of thanks is also due to the arena party who worked very well together to give every horse the opportunity to show themselves off to their best”

    Annemarie Pender - “We are delighted to have our home-bred Madgeslane Luidam getting approved here today at Cavan Equestrian Centre. It’s special for us to have bred him and we have many of his siblings that we are equally as excited about.”

    Siorcha Redmond - “It was definitely like dreams coming true getting Class 1, especially having Michael [Grady, breeder] there to see him [Murrisk The Holy Grail] get it! The crowd, back again to view after Covid, made for a great atmosphere and we had plenty of enquiries, so fingers crossed for a good season ahead!”

    Deirdre Reilly - “The HSI stallion inspections were a great opportunity to show my stallion from a breeding perspective, whereas normally the focus is always on jumping performance. I am new to stallion breeding so Conor Sheridan in HSI has really helped me through the approval process.

    “My stallion [Finnegan D] is 12 and in great shape to jump so we will combine competing and breeding. We go to Spain for three weeks now and then back to Ireland. It’s hard to juggle both but I think Finnegan will jump well in some big classes, which will help his breeding in the long term when he retires to bred full-time in Ireland.”

    Ronan Rothwell - “I was really happy with how Boleybawn Alvaro went and delighted he got such high marks. I thought the test for the Stage 2 stallions was quite challenging which is how it should be. You definitely need your horses well used for their age. HSI did an excellent job with the event but I feel at a time when funds are tight the stallion inspections should, and could, be run much more economically and edited down.”

    P.J Sheerin - “I thought the judges stuck more to type and conformation this year and did not waver. It’s heading in the right direction to be more consistent! The next thing we need is four judges in four corners and someone collecting their marking sheets, this will allow for transparency.”

    Seamus Sloyan - “It’s thanks to Danny Molloy. He bought 66 King Elvis straws off a lady in England, I asked him for one straw and he gave it to me.”

    Sharon Walsh - “It’s great for the Irish home-bred pony’s future which is seriously on the decline. Over the years, ponies have been imported from all corners of Wales, England, Sweden, France, Italy, etc., for Irish kids to compete on here. Yet no-one looked or supported our home-breds.

    “I felt the need to invest in some quality mares to breed Irish quality ponies from, 12.2s to 15.2s, but looking for a true Irish pony stallion here was fruitless. They were all imported. We need to create our own Irish Pony identity, apart from the Connemara, it is lost!

    “I’m very passionate about this. I knew I had to breed my own, which I did and Cavan was the result of seven years planning. I managed to breed my own blood pony stallion [Pineview Junior Boss] and he’s 100% Irish!”