Kentucky, Australia and China might dominate the world-wide siring business, but Ireland continues to produce winner after winner. The tiny island provides 40% of Europe’s thoroughbreds and 11% of the worldwide stock. So, if you’re a long-term kind of punter who likes to be the first to know about the next racing champion, read on for our pick of Ireland’s famous stud farms.
Coolmore finds itself at the top of our list due to its sheer size and pedigree. Based in Fethard, Tipperary, this stud is the nerve centre for the world’s largest thoroughbred breeding operation – it has even expanded into America and Australia. Recent valuations placed the company at €4bn, and it offers a range of services including 24hr vet care, yearly night staff, full boarding and horse care. In short: any steed that has passed Coolmore’s doors is well worth serious consideration.
Horses of note: Coolmore counts race leaders Sadler’s Wells and Danehill amongst their number. The stud is also currently home to Galileo, the world’s number one stallion by TRC Global rankings. And it should come as no surprise that the full price of the superstar ‘covering’ your mare is undisclosed.
Aga Khan’s Studs
A chief rival to Coolmore is Aga Khan’s Gilltown, with the horse-rearing dynasty splitting its work between Ireland and France. The famed Irish wing covers over a thousand acres across four holdings in Gilltown, Sallymount, Sheshoon and Ballyfair. Sheshoon is the oldest continuously-run stud in the UK and Ireland and it is renowned for maintaining continuously high standards. While many studs buy in their horses, Aga Khan is famous for its broodmare lines that have resulted in over a hundred Group 1 winners that can be traced directly back to the 1920’s. Offering form, consistency and pedigree in its truest form; a punt on a horse from here carries real value.
Horses of Note: The famous Born to Sea won the Blenheim stakes at two years of age and continued to place consistently. Sea the Stars also had blinding success at Beresford, Irish Championship stakes and Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe placing first in every event.
Irish National Stud and Gardens
Based in Tully, Kildare, the National is a government-owned stud that places as much emphasis on the culture around horseracing as it does on breeding. The site is famous for having a full museum and a meticulously cultivated Japanese tea garden. It also lets visitors meet some of its previous ‘living legends’ with the current stock five horses totalling fourty-six grade one wins and €6.3m in takings between them. And, if you want to get involved and become a part-owner in one of their horses, it’s a mere €2000 p.a fee!
Horses of Note: A number of winners have passed through the National’s gates, including Invincible Spirit – a grandsire to seven current G.1 winners.
Part of Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell operations, Derrinstown offers thirty-five years of staff experience and more than two thousand acres of resources. What it may lack in name recognition, it more than makes up for with the latest in cutting-edge training techniques and technology. Money is no object here, as proven by the team of ninety full-time staff and a resident on-call vet. The size of the operation means that they can afford to regularly rotate the stallions at stud and maintain quality across all operations, ensuring the worth of their output time and time again.
Horses of note: Horses such as Awtaad are recent additions, but the real draw for many is Group 1 winner Tamayuz, whose lineage continues to go from strength to strength.
Based in Kildare, this stud covers six-hundred acres of pasture and, while lacking the star-power of larger studs, it has enjoyed a history of continuous success stretching back thirty years. Previous winners such as Tudor Melody and M-Lolshan have gone on to produce fine stock but Dark Angel is currently acting as a huge draw. At £65,000 a cover, the horse has gone on to sire twenty-three individual group and stake winning horses that include Divine, Persuasive and Ardhoomey. Known for horses that not only succeed on track, but carry their legacy through their bloodline, a pick from Yeomanstown is always one to watch.
Horses of Note: Alongside siring stablemate Dark Angel, Gutaifan proved to be a solid all-ground horse that won four races at G2. Camacho – a known sprinter – has also gone on to sire multiple two-year-old winners and further secure the name of his line at the stable.
Part of Darley Europe, Kildangan is the Irish wing of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s empire. The holdings were purchased in 1986 and the stud is currently home to fifteen world-class stallions. These include the record breaking Exceed and Excel that has gone on to sire over a hundred stakes winners – most notably with his three-time G1 winning offspring, Helmet. Offering the ability to mix their diverse range of bloodlines and with prices starting from up $5000 and terminating at $50,000 dollars plus – Kildangan is not to be sniffed at when it comes to placing a punt.
Horses of Note: While there have been many winners, Singspiel is a recent success story; siring 13 G1 winners and winning G1 events in Europe, Canada, and Japan before retiring.
While very much still a work in progress, Sheikh Fahad’s purchase of a hundred acres of land in Limerick in 2013 has seen him commit building a stud farm on the property. The first Irish property purchase for the magnate, Qatar plans to turn it into the start of a new enterprise. This process is currently being overseen by Peter Molony, the owner of Rathmore Stud who has decades of experience under his belt. As sired horses start to show their form over the next few years, any runner that draws its legacy from this from this fold would be worth keeping an eye on for the years to come.
Horses of Note: The stud is only starting but the area has a true pedigree for raising G1 grade horses. Qatar has recently seen steeds such Simple Verse place first 5 times over 13 runs and place second and third five times.
Founded in 1914, this long-standing stud farm has shown continuous form and currently boards seven G1 winning racehorses; recently adding Fascinating Rock and New Bay to its retinue. While the stud offers a smaller range of choice, the quality produced has been undeniable. A pedigree that can be traced back to the horse on which the reputation of the stud was built – The Tetrarch.
Horses of Note: One of the most famous horses on this list, Ballylinch was founded thanks to The Tetrarch: a spotted grey who was unbeaten in seven races and stopped by an injury before hitting his prime. A household name at the time, he was eventually voted the ‘Best British Trained Horse’ of the 20th century by the National Horseracing Museum. The Tetrarch continued to sire a hundred and thirty foals across his lifetime, consolidating a bloodline famed for its rare combination of stamina and sprinting ability.
Stretching across 150 acres in County Laois, TinnaKill has quietly worked to give the sport three G1 champions; Alexander Goldrun, Red Evie and Casamento. It is known for offering its own established bloodstock and specialise in mares, with over forty currently on site. A pick from here is guaranteed to have been hand reared, as this stud is famous for its laser focus on giving each foal the best start possible. To consolidate this, they have partners in England, Kentucky and France with trade making its way across the world, promising diversity and quality.
Horses of Note: For a smaller, independent stud, Tinnakil has continuously been on the money when it comes to producing race winners. Alexander Goldrun was a Group One winner five times over and Casamento recently won the G1 Racing Post Trophy, siring fifteen winners within his first season.
A family-run business, Rathasker has a firm history of producing thoroughbred horses, starting with the breeding of Red Sunset which took the Coventry Stakes in Ascot in 1981. The stud has continued to do well ever since, rearing or selling twenty two-year old winners over the last five years. Offering consistency over glamour, the stud is one to watch for G2 or G3 horses if you are looking for a reliable pick.
Horses of Note: One of the reasons the stud has recently retained form is through smart picks. It recently purchased Anjaal – the son of Bahamian Bounty – and Clodovil for sires, a reliable source of two-year-old winners and sire to G1 winners Moriarity and Nahoodh.