Home Special feature Are Irish breeding fortunes on the rise?

Are Irish breeding fortunes on the rise?

Joe Reynolds, his daughter Judy, her husband Patrick Heavey and Vancouver K

By Susan Finnerty
Photography: Susan Finnerty

Green shoots! Looking back on previous Lanaken’s during WEG season is always a reminder of how Irish-breds once ruled the showjumping world. And then we sold our best mares (what did they produce elsewhere if they were so good? The quest to track down hard details continues!), we were slow to adopt the finely-tuned performance stallions produced on the Continent and Irish breeders got left behind their European neighbours. So the part-reality, part-myth goes.

The tide has started to turn though with the likes of MHS Going Global (Quidam Junior - Gowran Lady, x Cavalier Royale, bred by Ita Brennan), Ireland’s great green hope at the 2016 Rio Olympics with Greg Broderick. And climbing up the ladder behind him are the Irish-breds that have been doing well, increasingly well each year at Lanaken.
Four Irish Sport Horses have won WBCYH gold medals since 2010. That was when NLS Coole Al Clover (Aladatus Z - Laural Lodge, x Clover Hill, bred by Brian Kenny) broke through, followed three years later by Arraghbeg Clover (Captain Clover - Blidsworth Lion Queen, x Bonnie Prince, bred by Agata Leonard), whose breeder was told at the sales her filly foal was worth just €800.
The third gold medal champion in quick succession was Killossery Kaiden (Lux Z - Killossery Kruisette, x Cruising. bred by Frank and Laura Glynn) and just last year, it was Columbcille Gipsy (Toulon - Gipsy III, x Grundyman, bred by Eamonn Murphy) who won gold again and was later sold for €700,000 at the PSI Auction in early December.
And then there was this year’s unprecedented treble win by the Irish Sport Horse studbook when the top-three places were filled by the once-underdogs of the breeding world. So who bred this year’s medal winning five-year-olds?

Gold: Uppercourt Cappucino 

Sadly, as is often the case in the long road to breeding champions, the success story sometimes involves a late breeder. This was the bittersweet case recently at the Burghley Horse Trials where the breeders of winner Ringwood Sky Boy (Courage II - Sky Lassie x Sky Boy, bred by Myles Mahon) and second-placed Ballaghmor Class (Courage II - Kilderry Place x Young Convinced xx, bred by  Noel Hickey), have since passed away.
Uppercourt Cappuccino (Pacino - Uppercourt Posh, x OBOS Quality 004) was bred by the late Galway man Paul O’Byrne, a consultant surgeon who has also stood the KWPN sire Kroongraaf (Burggraaf - Rianne x Amor, bred by G.A. Wensink Ooyman) at his former Uppercourt Stud in Co Kilkenny. (Incidentally, Kilkenny is the Irish county that produced the highest number of Irish Sport Horses – seven – that competed in Tryon recently at the 2018 World Equestrian Games)...