SIFTING through feedback and views on Horse Sport Ireland’s inspection process, now in its 14th year, is like reading Tripadvisor reviews.

Somewhere between satisfied owners of stallions that passed, those that didn’t and keen onlookers who have followed the process from Year 1, lies the overall picture.

There was a better balance too by having the sport horse and Irish Draught candidates spread over two days. In previous years, Irish Draughts, which draw the largest number of spectators, were held on the first day.

What was apparent last week is we’re starting to see the next generation of Cavan-approved stallion’s offspring coming through, for example with Sligo Cavalier Candy. 10 years ago, his own popular sire Sligo Candy Boy, also passed Stage 1.

Similarly, Carrabawn Cross, Darragh Moylough Vision and Killountain Cross, all past Cavan graduates, had successful Class 1 sons this year.

The 20-year mark of the inspections will provide a decent interval to review what has been produced from Cavan. In the meantime, what were the numbers like this year?

With a couple of absentees, 38 stallions (six less than in 2022) were put forward last week, headed by Irish Draughts (22), continental-breds (six), Irish Sport Horses (six), thoroughbreds (three) and Irish Sport Pony (one).

Four stallions - Casago II (HOLST), Mambo Nights (TB), Sir Lando (TB) and Tyrellspass Prince Charming (ISP) - were fully approved for the Irish Sport Horse studbook. The approval of Mambo Nights and Sir Lando bridged a four-year gap since the previous thoroughbred approval. Incidentally, that was Glen Moss whose owner Tommy McMahon owns Ludden Skywalker, one of this year’s Class 1 Draughts.

From the dozen Stage 1 sport horse candidates, five were successful on Wednesday. Jengisk Delle Colle returned the next day to tackle Stage 2 and was joined by Annemarie Pender’s Sandro van de Berghoeve that had passed Stage 1 two years ago.

Tomas Doyle and Sandro va de Berhoeve in action at the HSI Stallion Inspections at Cavan EC \ Laurence Dunne

Returning the next day with a four-year-old can be a gamble but paid off for Jengisk Delle Colle’s owners. The Pender family’s success strike rate continued and both stallions sailed through Stage 2 to become Preliminary Approved.

10 Irish Draught stallions, a 100% increase on last year’s figure, gained Class 1 approval. The first approved was David Doyle’s home-bred Cloncastle Ambassador and Doyle kicks off the Irish-bred success stories at Cavan in this week’s Breeders 10 (page 85).

A “too complex and slow” to see results approvals system, expensive and “let the breeders decide” was more feedback gathered from the two days in Cavan. For successful owners though, it was a great place to be.

Padraig Howley and Sligo Cavalier Candy at the HSI Stallion Inspections at Cavan Equestrian Centre \ Susan Finnerty

Did you know?

  • This year’s Irish Draught Horse inspectors were Liam Cotter (chairperson), Gillian Devenney, Andrew Gardiner, Adrian Hurst, Michael Kirwan, Charlotte Moore and Ger O’Sullivan.
  • Sport Horse panel? Maurice Coleman, Jack Doyle (chairperson), Alastair Pim, Chris Ryan and Philip Scott.
  • Louis Hassett was the HSI vet on duty, the test rider was Damien Griffin and there was a team of eight Horse Sport Ireland staff, plus equestrian and veterinary course students on duty at Cavan. Former HSI staff member Michael Dempsey was also seconded to work at this year’s inspections.
  • Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan was at Wednesday’s inspections while it was a busy two days for HSI’s Head of Breeding, Innovation and Development Sonja Egan.
  • Amongst Thursday’s spectators was Alison Corbally, the former HSI Director of Breeding and Programmes and the annual IDHS(GB) visitors over in advance of their own upcoming inspections at Moreton Morrell. Ellen Walton, one of the cross-channel Draught enthusiasts, has a collection of the earliest Irish Draught stallion books.
  • The biggest talking point at Cavan? Rising costs across the board with owning horses, in agriculture and day-to-day living.
  • The most conservative cost of producing a horse for Cavan, factoring in four weeks of professional production beforehand? €3,000.
  • Case study on costs

    One stallion owner outlined what it cost in the run-up to the inspections. Costs do not include buying the stallion from foal stage upwards, own labour costs, time off work or miscellaneous expenses.

    Inspection entry fee 300

    Veterinary examination 800

    Vaccinations 120

    Professional livery (4 weeks) 960

    Diesel (livery yard, vetting, Cavan) 500

    Feed/supplements 1,000

    Farrier 100

    TOTAL €3,780

    What they said

    Victoria Aiken: “We’re delighted that Peroni passed Stage 1. Jordan [Coyle, Victoria’s uncle] bought him as a baby and we’ve had him since he was six months old. It has been very exciting to watch him develop through the years, he’s still very young and not a three-year-old until the end of April.

    He’ll be going out to grass soon, along with his stablemates, to enjoy being a horse. We will then break him and start his jumping career. We love the fact that he is so laidback around mares and other stallions and he absolute loves people. He also loves to jump, he has been known to casually pop over jumps by himself.

    We’re all really looking forward to see what the future holds for Peroni!”

    Catherine Boylan: “A three-year-old, Tyrellspass Prince Charming won numerous in-hand youngstock, coloured and part-bred Welsh classes and championship.

    He was produced for the show ring and inspections in Tullamore by Sinead Healion, who says he’s a pleasure to have in the yard. A very clever pony, he loves his work and jumping and rises to the big occasion. He’ll come back to Cavan next month for the Northern Ireland Festival (NIF) and hopefully give the Cuddy another shot as he qualified for the Cuddy qualifier at NIF last year. .

    Afterwards, he returns to Sinead to be lightly broken as there are very few in-hand classes for him as a stallion. He will cover some in-house mares and possibly a few other select mares.”

    Tom Brennan: “The colt [MHS Always] is a fantastically blood specimen from a full-sister to MHS Going Global, so she is a sister also to the mother of (MHS) Kilkenny. He was a lovely foal and that’s why he is our first venture into the other side of the breeding equation, it’s all generally been fillies in our plans.

    He’s scopey, very quick with his legs, au natural and would be an asset to any mare. With such thoroughbred blood in his system, he will get great lookers too! His pedigree will only strengthen in the next couple of years as I have some very, very exciting full-siblings to the mother hitting the circuit and they themselves will also leave a name for themselves in the sport!”

    Luke Drea: “We bought Jengisk Delle Colle in France last year. We have a small syndicate and we went to see a mare, saw him and thought: ‘We don’t want a stallion!’ So we say to him ‘If you ever misbehave, you’re getting castrated!’ He hasn’t yet so he must have taken it on board! He’ll go jumping now, we want to have him available to jump this year but we’ll pick a six/seven-week window in the summer and if people want to use him, he’s there. We’ll cover a few mares ourselves and freeze some semen.

    He’s got Stage 2 now so he can do the RDS, if he’s ready. That’s part of the purpose of doing Cavan because he’s a foreign-bred, so we had to do this to be allowed do the studbook classes.”

    Johnny Geoghegan: “Mambo Nights came from Godolphin, previously owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and trained by Richard Hannon. He won on the flat three times out of eight starts.

    He’ll stand here at Lisnagranchy Stud. The plan is to cover non-TB mares with him, he’s a nice cross for Irish Draught and half-bred mares.

    The inspections are improving every year, the organisation from Conor Sheridan and the rest of the HSI team is absolutely fantastic. The format works well, keeping stallions apart, allowing them to stay relaxed while at the same time keeping the running order and the actual inspections flowing.

    Gabriel Slattery produced him for the inspections, he is so professional and does an impeccable job. We just wouldn’t have the time needed from January to March with the amount of hunt horses we have in.”

    William Hickey: “I thought the inspection process was very good, well-run and well-judged. I think it’s a very good option to have for foreign-bred stallions being brought into Ireland.

    I suppose with Casago II it’s important to mention that although he’s the first sport horse stallion to stand at Garryrichard Stud, I think he’s a very exciting addition for Irish breeders. His blood, quality and temperament will suit a wide variety of mares

    He probably brings forward one of the best pedigrees of any stallion to stand in Ireland - related to Harley VDL, Casago, Cevin Z etc - along with having the performance and talent himself as a sport horse.

    I was delighted to see that the panel of judges saw how nice a horse he is and the scores showed that.”

    William Hickey with the first sport horse to stand at Garryrichard Stud in Co. Wexford: Casago II

    Padraig Howley: “I bought Sligo Cavalier Candy from a video when he was a foal, he was bred by Mary Murphy in Wicklow. I’ll stand him myself and jump him on. He’ll be aimed for the Dublin three-year-old classes but we don’t know which way we’ll go at the moment [performance or potential event horse] as he seems to shine in both. He’s an extravagant mover with balance but he’s a super jumper. We can only do one of them! There was a lot of enquiries about him today from mare customers.”

    Gladys McArdle: “Like our friend Johnny Geoghegan, we longtime stallion owners still appreciate what the HSI Approved standard of recognition holds for thoroughbred stallions.

    The market for thoroughbred stallions may not be the strongest but there is still a demand, they have their job to do! We now have three thoroughbreds at Drumhowan and I don’t believe we will ever be without one.

    Sir Lando was sourced in Norway. A Group 3 winner, he already has other European studbook licenses. He rides off nicely and happily pops a coloured pole. The sight of his sire Lando in a thoroughbred pedigree is always attractive.

    Since his approval and Cavan stallion parade, enquiries are certainly encouraging and helps highlight the desire to have the HSI Approved sash.”

    Derry Rothwell: “Yes, that was our first time at the inspections with an Irish Draught stallion. The format was interesting. It worked quite well with groups of three stallions and the same inspectors moving with you from arena to arena. It was good for the spectators and owners to get to hear the marks and comments for each stallion.

    Our plans aren’t set in stone as yet with Greenhall Supersonic, we might stand him but are considering possibly selling him.”

    Seamus Sloyan: “It was great to have Clogheen Life Of Reilly passed as Class 1, that’s the second year to have a Class 1 stallion at Cavan [the home-bred King Elvis I in 2022]. They’re both by King Elvis, it’s bringing that line back to Co Mayo and would have made the late PJ O’Reilly, who stood King Elvis, very proud.

    Thanks to Padraic [Corcoran] for doing a top job getting him ready and to Danny Molloy too, who bred Clogheen Life Of Reilly and imported the King Elvis straws from England.

    I haven’t decided yet what to do with both stallions. There was a lot of interest and several offers for King Elvis I after Dublin last year where he was the youngest stallion in the class and finished third. They’re two different types, both with something to offer different Draught mare types.”

    Provisional results Irish Sport Horse Studbook


    William Hickey’s CASAGO II (HOLST). Casall La Silla (HOLST) - Larthago (HOLST) , by Carthago (HOLST). Breeder: Martien Van Der Bruggen.

    John Geoghegan’s MAMBO NIGHTS (TB). Havana Gold - Inez, by Dai Jin. Breeder: Kildaragh Stud.

    Gladys McArdle’s SIR LANDO (TB). Lando - Burqa, by Nashwan). Breeder: Stowell Hill Ltd.


    Luke Drea & Claire Dubowski’s JENGISK DELLE COLL (SF). Diamant de Semilly (SF) - Cetra (HOLST), by Cassini II (HOLST). Breeder: S.C.E.A.

    Annemarie Pender’s SANDRO VAN DE BERGHOEVE (BWP). Hunter’s Scendro (HANN) - Mademoiselle de Muze (BWP), by Elvis Ter Putte (BWP). Breeder: Vadebo NV/Paul van den Bosch.

    STAGE 1

    Lady Georgina Forbes’ FERIDANN DE KERGANE. (SF). Canturo (HOLST) - Cyltzia de Kergane (SF), by Hornet Rose (SF). Breeder: S.C.E.A de Kergane.

    Sinead Brennan’s MHS ALWAYS (ISH). Aganix Du Seigneur (SBS) - MHS Glory Days (ISH), by Quidam Junior I (KWPN). Breeder: Thomas Brennan.

    Jordan Coyle’s PERONI (KWPN). Zirocco Blue VDL (SF) - Aginea-Go (KWPN), by Lupicor KWPN). Breeder: Fam. Versteeg.

    Padraig Howley’s SLIGO CAVALIER CANDY (ISH). Sligo Candy Boy (ISH) - HHS Miss Cavalier (ISH), by Cavalier Royale (HOLST). Breeder: Mary & Eileen Murphy.



    Catherine Boylan’s TYRELLSPASS PRINCE CHARMING (ISP). Chinook Limelight (WPB) - Megland Mooncharm (CHAPS), by Acado (DR). Breeder: Owner.




    CLASS 1

    Peter Rice’s BALTYDANIEL WHITE HEATHER (Powerswood Gladiator - Breezy Silver, by Fast Silver. Breeder: Elizabeth Deane Cogan.

    Denis O’Brien’s CARRAIGSTUD CALLUM (Goldsmithcountry Oliver - Goldsmith Easter, by Clonakilty Hero. Breeder: Owner.

    Seamus Sloyan’s CLOGHEEN LIFE OF REILLY (King Elvis - Clogheen Whirlwind, by Fast Silver. Breeder: Daniel Molloy.

    David Doyle’s CLONCASTLE AMBASSADOR (Fast Silver - Derradda Mist, by Gurraun Zidane). Breeder: Owner.

    Grace Maxwell Murphy & William McMahon’s EDENAGOR STAR (Dunsandle Diamond - Edenagor Rosie, by Carrickrock Close Shave). Breeder: Jim McNulty.

    Martin Kenirons’ ESPRESSO VISION (Darragh Moylough Vision - Liskillen Princess, by Donovan). Breeder: James Heery.

    Derry Rothwell’s GREENHALL SUPERSONIC (Carrabawn Cross - Garden Mor Failte, by Coolcronan Wood). Breeder: Sam & Carmel Jennings.

    Emma Hynes’ HOLLYROCK GREY HERO (Killountain Cross - Gentle Shauna, by Gentle Diamond). Breeder: Sean Scannell.

    Tommy McMahon’s LUDDEN SKYWALKER (Luke Skywalker - Cloncastle Hollie, by Shenandoah Prince Holly). Breeder: Eamonn Kennedy.

    Cathal Shine’s WRS SUNRISE (WRS Sun Rich - Guilla Mai, by Home Rule). Breeder: Humphrey Moynihan.