IrishNS paddock

Irish National Stud Visit

12th May 2018

We aim to make owning with Hambleton as pleasurable and fulfilling as possible and enjoy giving owners a special insight into the workings of the racing industry when possible.

We’ve visited some of the most powerful bloodstock operations in Europe with our owners in recent years so the Irish National Stud, the home of Invincible Spirit, was naturally a stud we were keen to arrange a private owners’ visit for.

You certainly could hardly ask for a more serene environment for breeding horses than the one we found when arriving at the well-manicured, beautiful 800-acre setting in Tully, County Kildare.

Last year’s visit to see the formidable Frankel was always going to be hard to match, but owners joining us were treated to an up close and personal encounter with all the stud has to offer.

Colonel William Hall Walker, a firm believer in the power of astrology,  established the stud in 1900. He was convinced that a horse’s birth date could actually determine their ability on the track.

Sea the Stars, who was foaled at the stud, is believed to of been named to recognise what Colonel Walker achieved in gaining the National Stud the prominence and prestige it holds today in the world of thoroughbred breeding. The purple and yellow colours of his famous silks can be seen throughout the flower beds close to the stallion boxes as a fitting tribute to the great horse.

Our tour guide Ellen made sure this was a wonderful day for the owners, offering the perfect blend of knowledge and humour, ensuring everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

As the tour began first stop was the stars of yesteryear, the living legends. These retired stars of the past were keen to come and see the owners whom Ellen had ensured were armed with carrots!

Multiple Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly may be small in stature but he certainly commanded the most attention, making sure he was the main beneficiary of the carrots.  It is wonderful to see the older horses happily grazing with one another and living out their days at the stud after giving so much in their careers.

From here the tour took the owners towards the mare and foal paddocks, with some of the youngsters just days old. The mighty mare Quevega, winner of the mares’ hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival a record six times, was amongst them.

A tour of the mares scanning area and foals requiring specialist treatment proved particularly interesting, as Ellen explained how they aim to rectify flaws in confirmation as soon as possible to increase the foals value later in life.

From here it was down to the stallion walk were much excitement was afoot. Luckily for our owners Gale Force Ten was clearly in high spirits and set about showing off his quick speed and athleticism around the paddock. It was a real treat for the owners to see him so closely and in action.

As owners left the stallion walk unbeknown to them they were in for even more thrills as they were invited up to the viewing box of the covering barn. From here they witnessed none other than the outstanding Invincible Spirit himself covering a mare who has already produced Group 1 winning progeny.

Invincible Spirit is an amazing looking specimen by Green Desert and his stud record speaks for itself. He is a world leading sire having sired numerous Group 1 winners and at the age of 21 is still in high demand. With a stud fee of €120,000, his progeny remain very popular in the sales ring.

To see a stallion as valuable as this in such close proximity was something our owners can take away from the day. There will not be many people who have potentially witnessed a Group 1 winner being conceived.

As the tour finished lunch was served in the bright and airy café with a generous selection of fresh food and drink to choose from. The impressive cake and pastry counter was a particular favourite with the owners as a treat to finish off the meal.

For the afternoon owners were welcome to explore all the stud has to offer at their own pace. The informative museum is home to the skeleton of non-other than Arkle, winner of three Cheltenham Gold Cups.

The Sun Chariot foaling yard which sees over 250 births every year was also open for owners to go and explore while owners also had the chance to watch a foaling video. The stunning Japanese Gardens and tranquil St. Fiachra’s Garden attract visitors throughout the year and were also enjoyed.

For those who managed to get over to Ireland there was certainly plenty to feast their eyes on at this impeccably clean yet relaxed stud, where the staff could not do enough to make us welcome and our visit enjoyable.

Owners certainly enjoyed this thoroughly insightful look into the workings of one of Europe’s top studs.

Our thinking caps are now on to ensure next year’s visit can match up to the excellent stud visits our owners have enjoyed in recent years.