Slevin steals the show at Thurles on Chapel Garden.

20131222-182430.jpgThurles Racecourse staged the last national hunt race meeting prior to Christmas today with an interesting card offered to race goers.

In many respects it was a wonderful early Christmas present for young Wexford man JJ Slevin as the 21 year old stole the show as he scored the first track winner of his career when taking the bumper on Chapel Garden at 14/1.

Getting the leg up on the 4 year old Heron Island gelding from Inistioge, Co Kilkenny based trainer John Clifford, Slevin successful on 13 occasions between the flags to date managed to make a stunning debut for Co Wexford owner breeder James Byrne.

The son of Heron Island was the only horse without previous racing experience but this didn’t stop Slevin from upsetting better fancied opponents to land the spoils.

Slevin is a son of Shay and Elizabeth Slevin from Kiltrea Enniscorthy Co Wexford. He splits his time between his media studies in Dublin and riding out at home where Shay has a mixture of track and point to point horses.

With his brother Mark they share the riding duties at the yard depending on the requirements of the day, but JJ has struck up a winning relationship with Clifford in the point to point world with this now being transferred to the track.

Slevin a first cousin of Irish Champion Flat jockey, Joseph O’Brien will now be hoping to build on this initial track winner. It might be worth your while to check out a piece published here the 23/10/13 under the title “Slevins expertise shines through” in inside the rails.

It was a good enough day for Wexford based performers as Gordon Doyle, saddled his second track winner, when Foritsa added to his win at Wexford when taking the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Steelpechase.

Doyle based just outside of New Ross, Co Wexford has a small team of horses that he is now both training and placing them expertly.

Ridden by Adam O’Neill the 9 year old Golden Tornado gelding won this 2 mile 2 furlong contest easily at 4/1. Owned by New Ross man Harry Williams this former winning point to pointer has really thrived on the new training regime instigated by Doyle that saw him give his trainer his first career track winner in November at Wexford. O’Neill is funnily enough another Wexford man who currently rides out for John Berry and Eoin Doyle.

Getting in on the “Wexfest” theme, Colm Murphy must have been thrilled to gain a winning bracket for The Cookie Jar. This 6 year old Alderbrook mare had some nice placed firm at Down Royal and Wexford on her last two runs and justified favouritism to win here under Jody McGarvey. This young Derry man continues to impress observers and if he continues to ride with success for these good yards his career can only take off.

Other winners on the card saw Robert Tyner and Philip Enright take the Molony Cup with Sterling Stuff, while Jim Dreaper and Dessie Hughes won a couple of hurdle races with Los Amigos and Thunder and Roses giving Keith Donoghue and Davy Russell a winner each.

No meeting currently staged in Ireland would be complete without a Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh winner and so it was here with their 5 year old Denham Red gelding Un De Sceaux taking the conditions hurdle at 16/1 on!

But in truth it was one mans day, well done to JJ Slevin on his track winner, hopefully it will be the first of many.

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Cleary brings National Hunt racing to Dundalk, without the jumps!

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So national hunt racing has come to Dundalk, and they haven’t even built the course yet!

Carrigtwohill, Co Cork trainer Terence O’Brien sent his 9 year old Alderbrook gelding to Dundalk to win the final race of their year at 25/1 under Rory Cleary. This horse was last seen at Cheltenham in November running in a steeplechase, but here he upset the Aidan O’Brien favourite Shield to open his account on the flat. Cleary incidentally had a double on the evening and included a fall to add to the national hunt feel for the evening.

This 3 time hurdle winner at the summer festivals at Killarney, Galway and Listowel in 2010 traces back to Derby winner Workforce and St Leger victor Brian Boru so there is a bit of flat racing there.

He debuted in the point to point fields , unsuccessfully, but hey who cares now.

With Dundalk unveiling their plans for an All Weather track, its already here following this winner, but without the jumps!!!!!

Take up that five for €50 offer in the South East!

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It is no easy task running a racecourse these days with the economy chugging along the ocean bed hoping to get a lift from whatever source that might come its way.

When that source are the racecourses themselves joining forces together it is worth noting and supporting.

Go Racing in the South East sees the four racecourses in the South East corner of Ireland offering a five for €50 deal at Clonmel, Gowran Park, Tramore and Wexford. This gives an individual race goer five admissions to any of these four racecourses during the year for €50, added to that when you throw in a racecard at each meeting it becomes a genuine bargain for the avid race goer or a novice just dipping their toe in to see what racing is like.

With 50 race meetings spread throughout the year including every month of 2014 everyone should be able to pick out five suitable days. Meetings on offer include weekdays, weekends, public holidays and evening fixtures.With every race course within easy enough reach its a no brainer in my view.

It is great to see these four racecourses working together and the offer is a genuine one and should be encouraged.

So why don’t you take up the five from fifty for €50 offer? Contact Clonmel , Gowran Park, Tramore or Wexford racecourses for more information, it will be worth your while!

Can the breeding industry afford to allow the blessed trinity to manipulate it?

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The final sale of national hunt stock in Ireland for 2013 was held at Goffs on the 12th of December. In a change to normal practice of previous years this sale exclusively only offered foals with no Broodmares nor yearlings.

The catalogue had 313 foals on offer on the day with 284 of them offered for sale and 211 of them sold to new owners, while the sale boasted a healthy turnover of €1.92 million.

The top lot of the sale was offered by Shanaville Stables with the colt , a son of Beneficial making €39,000 being sold to Kevin Ross Bloodstock. This colt out of the Presenting mare Tanit Lady, comes from a strong national hunt family, including Gunner Welburn and Calling Wild. With 8 Black Type performers in the pedigree this horse already a half brother to a bumper and point to point winner,  Abigail Lynch has most likely been pinhooked to be sold on at a future date. This is the second last year that we will see foals by Beneficial who stood in Knockhouse Stud in Co Kilkenny,in the sales ring with the expectation that he might have up to 20 live foals in 2014.

Jeremy is causing a bit of a stir having transferred from the Irish National Stud to Garryrichard Stud in Co Wexford in 2013. With Our Conor the flag bearer for him on the track Dermot Cantillon offered a son of his out of the Sadlers Wells mare Poulkovo from Tinnakill House. This half brother to one winner has a real flat pedigree with his grandam Pine Chip being a full sister to Coolmore stallion Peintre Celebre. This pedigree would not have been out of place at some of the flat sales this autumn but the transfer of Jeremy onto the national hunt stallion roster put paid to that. He made €35,000 here which is a nice return on his 2012 covering fee of €6,000. Whether or not he ever faces a fence at Lingstown or Dromahane might be open to question, but his purchaser Rathmore Stud must be confident that they will make a profit on him.

Kevin Ross was busy as he signed the docket for the third highest priced lot as well when paying €30,000 for a Presenting colt out of a Little Bighorn mare Papoose. Presenting has been the flag bearer for Rathbarry/Glenview Studs in Fermoy in Co Cork for some years now and this colt offered under the Ballincurrig House Stud banner is a full brother to Aintree Grand National winner Ballabriggs. The pedigree gies back to Hi Cloy, Wonder and the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner For Auction.

The same price of €30,000 was also achieved for a Flemensfirth colt out of Mucho Macabi a half sister to another Champion Hurdler, Hurricane Fly. This 20 times winner is the reigning champion with the flat pedigree tracing back to Lady Singer and Yankee Gold. This foal was offered by Grange Stud a sister stud The Beeches Stud in Lismore Co Waterford where Flemensfirth has been resident since 1998.

This horse was purchased by GH Bloodstock while Abbeylands signed for the Scorpion colt out of Spring Baloo from Grange Hill Stud. As this dam name suggests the colt is from the family of Ash Baloo and Lucky Baloo all recognisable names in the jumping world.

These were all good prices and the press releases afterwards pushed a positive spin on the results. I would too if it were my job, but when I drilled down a little deeper beyond the average sales figure of €9,084 the picture wasn’t so rosy.

I have put a figure of €4,000 as the bottom price most foals need to make to get even close to a breakeven point. This is to cover stallion fees, registrations and sales preparation. It does not cover vets and feed bills that might be incurred nor the man hours put into the foal. So of the 284 foals offered 113 40% or 2 in 5 of them were sold for €4,000 or less. Every single one of these were in my view sold at a loss by their breeders!!! How can this continue?

So that remains the major concern in my view in the long term and the blessed trinity of Sales Companies, Stallion Masters and Bloodstock Companies cannot continue to manage or manipulate the market without ultimately damaging the breeding industry.

What can be done?

In my opinion Stallion fees are too high and have been for years, caps should be placed on the number of covering certs for each stallion, sales companies should offer a charter of service and treat all vendors equally while bloodstock agents should register their business interests and ownerships for all to see.

If we started with these small steps we might well develop a true and fair market place and a better industry.

Dromahane and Lisgoold previewed and the Season reviewed!

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The Duhallow Foxhounds race at Dromohane on the 29th with a six race card is likely to be extended following an entry of 166. Now I know that a lot can happen a horse over a 12 day period, but assuming that most of them remain sound a considerable number of declarations are likely.

The highlight of the card is the Open Lightweight with 17 entries listed for this race restricted to Novice Riders. Sheila Ahern and trainer Sean Aherne successful at Lisronagh with the front running mare Isourbell are double entered with that 11 year old Executive Perk mare and Frontier Lady a 12 year old daughter of New Frontier also in the mix. It is doubtful if both will run and the current rainfall may decide their plans.

Both of these horses have been recently defeated by the Irene Walsh owned and ridden Pocket Reader, at Curahhen and Affane, on a mixture of ground types ranging from soft to good to yielding. This horse a 7 year old gelding by Sonus, has been well placed by Eugene O’Sullivan to date so it will be interesting to see if he is declared. The intention for the remainder of the season has been to race between the flags so the chances are that he will be allowed to take his chance and give both himself and Irene an opportunity to blow the Christmas cobwebs away.

Benedictus from Willie Burkes yard was given a spin at the last meeting here in the Open under Mikey O’Connor with the Alderbrook gelding finishing fifth behind Lisrose. The riding arrangements for this horse will have to be changed if he is to compete here, but if he turns up he will be a formidable challenger.

Another horse that tried his luck in the same Open race on the 15th was the Rachel Kennedy ridden Lough Ferrib, with the 12 year old Accordion gelding falling. Trained by Rachel Kenneddy in Co Clare, this horse has some nice form to his name including running third to Voleuse De Coeurs in the Irish Cesarewitch in 2012. This five time hurdle winner has never won a chase either on the track or between the flags, but he clearly has the pace to trouble all of these if in form.

Gary Murphy has been the regular pilot of Mandy Carroll recently with the Co Wexford trained raider always coming up against one or two horses that the daughter of Carroll House just cannot beat. The John Walsh trained mare is very game and consistent and will be trying as hard as anyone here.

The reminder of the card sees 17 horses entered in the 4 year old mares race, 56 are named in the Brightwells 4 year old geldings, 38 in the same sponsors 5 year old geldings race, while the 5 and 6 year mares has 28 entered and 10 horses only entered in the confined 5 year old plus race.

This promises to be a good day and provides everyone the chance to race again following the blank weekend before Christmas.

So who are the current table toppers between the flags?

With the first part of the point to point season concluding last weekend it is timely to look at the current status of the table toppers before moving onto the Winter/Spring programme.

Jamie Codd definitely finished this part of the season with an amazing flourish at Tattersalls Farm and Dromahane clocking up 9 winners over the two days. This has seen him put considerable daylight between himself and Barry O’Neill with Codd on the 29 winner mark, 10 clear of the seasons early pace setter on 19. It is a another 9 winners back to Derek O’Connor in third place with 10 winners and Paul Power currently in fourth place on the 9 winner mark. With the Galway based O’Connor returning to action so quickly after his injury it is very clearly a sign that he has no intention of relinquishing his national title easily.

Both Codd and O’Neill are Wexford based , which puts them at a slight geographic disadvantage , having to travel from deep into the south east corner of Ireland in order to compete. This hasn’t stood in their way to date and they look likely to play a major part in the jockeys championship for the remainder of the season.

Interestingly it is another Wexford man that leads the novice riders championship with Rob James currently in front on the 5 winner mark, while the ladies championship sees Rachel Blackmore on the 3 winner mark from her Co Tipperary base.

On the Handlers listing David Christie has been to the front nearly since flagfall with the Co Fermanagh man currently on the 10 winner mark, if its true that both Codd and O’Neill might be hindered by their location Christie most clearly has to travel nearly further in search of that elusive winner. He is now being closely pursued by Co Waterford based Vincent Halley, who has saddled 9 winners so far this season, seeing him 3 clear of both Colin Bowe and Denis Murphy. These two men are past masters at the point to point game with Bowe in particular likely to unleash a string of 4 year old’s in the New Year, with Halley very much a rookie doing really well to date.

No review of the season to date would be complete without a look at the Sires listing, with Beneficial, a former resident of Knockhouse Stud leading the table on 12, followed by the Grange Stud based Milan on 10, the same Stud’s Oscar on 7 with Dr Massini and Boardsmill Stud stallion Court Cave currently in fifth place on 6.

We will keep track of progress in all of these sectors over the coming months but from this vantage point it looks more than interesting.

Lisgoold unveil an exciting new race track.

The New Year will see the United Hunt race over an exciting new track at Lisgoold on the 5th of January. The right handed track has been well received in pre race tests by the point to point aficionados with the 3 mile contests being run over two and a half circuits of the track. Racing over land at Templenacarriga with the kind permission of Walter and Nora Cotter the organising committee are looking forward to a good days racing. The track is located within a few miles of Midleton in East Cork and the promise is of good views of the track and ample car parking. The current starting time is scheduled for 12.30pm but depending on entries it could be a little earlier on the first Sunday of 2014.

Take a chance on these when they run next.

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I was flicking through the racing calendar till the end of the year and tried to visualise just how many winners I would back till New Years Eve.

I can’t say that I came up with a healthy number but in any case I will share a couple or more of options that could be worth all our whiles taking a chance on when they run next.

Navan on the 7th saw Willie Mullins win a maiden hurdle with Vautour. In doing so he defeated Lieutenant Colonel over 2 miles from the Dessie Hughes yard. The 4 year old son of Kayf Tara had won his bumper on his previous start st Punchestown and while not troubling the winner he showed enough to mark him down as a future hurdle winner for Gigginstown House Stud.

On the same card Margaret Mullins saw her 4 year old Kings Theatre filly Ballychorus finished third at 25/1 in a mares maiden hurdle. Racing in the colours of Barry Connell and ridden by Danny Mullins she ran particularly well here and seems likely to pick up a race before long for her Doninga based connections. Given her inexperience this race will see her hopefully come on in leaps and bounds.

Cork racecourse is one of the fairest galloping tracks in the country with form there nearly always replicated elsewhere. A recent bumper at the track saw the Jimmy Mangan trained and Jane Mangan ridden Monty’s Meadow win well over 2 miles. This Oscar 5 year old looks a more than likely repeat winner but my eye catcher was the Kieran Purcell trained Garri Rua under Paul Power. This Milan 6 year old raced prominently and while giving way to the winner looks certain to give the Co Kilkenny based Purcell another winner. Home bred by his owner Thomas O’Neill this horse has already had two runs over hurdles and this will be where his future lies.

We move onto Tramore on the 12th where Adrian Maguire and Declan Queally got a nice tune out of their winning Point to Pointer Davinia’s Tip. This Presenting mare couldn’t resist the challenge of Sunday Serenade but stayed on to finish second at 16/1. Maguire based in Co Cork will most likely place this mare wisely and she looks a certainty to win for her owner Mrs Toni Tipper.

On the same card Co Tipperary based trainer Ray Hackett saw his Broadway Flyer 6 year old gelding Phil The Flyer come from off the pace to be second in his father Liam’s colours. The winner Flaming Dawn, confirmed his promise when winning here under Jane Mangan while Hacketts horse will win particularly when facing a hurdle or two.

Again the health warnings on these horses should be taken into account but they looked good to me!

What’s on this Week?

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On the Track:

20th Dundalk (e)
21st Navan
22nd Thurles
26th Down Royal, Leopardstown, Limerick
27th Leopardstown, Limerick
28th Leopardstown, Limerick
29th Leopardstown, Limerick
31st Punchestown

Point to Points:

29th Duhallow (F)

O’Connor wins on return from injury, as Codd racks up another four timer.

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So did anyone see a sales topper today at Dromahane? That will depend on the market place in the future but a number of these horses will be heading into the sales ring into the new year, with genuine hopes that new owners can be found.

One of the stories of the day was the return of the champion jockey Derek O’Connor to action following an accident on the gallops no more than 3 weeks ago. He not only returned but he was fit enough to steer two winners home in the shape of Leu Feu Garde and Breezy Kin. The 5 year old winner Leu Feu Garde is a French bred son of Kapgarde trained by Paurick O’Connor while Robert Tyner gave him the leg up on the Kris Kin horse Breezy Kin to win a division of the Winners of One.

Jamie Codd finished off a wonderful week riding a fourtimer at the track, which when added to his winners at Tattersalls Farm last weekend gives him a staggering 9 winners nearly as good as the all conquering Willie Mullins.

Codd recorded victories for four different trainers today William Codd, Ger Hourigan, Alice Curran and Ross O’Sullivan. His day started with a victory on the 4 year old French bred Virtual D’Oudon a son of Network for his brother William. He followed up in the third divide of this maiden winning on the Milan horse Master of Verse for Ger Hourigan and took the Open Lightweight on Lisrose a daughter of Beneficial for Alice Curran. He completed his haul when taking the first division of the Winners of One contest for Ross O’Sullivan with Massinimoss a son of Dr Massini.

Other winners on the last day of the Autumn Point to Point schedule saw Declan Queally win on Moores Road a 4 year old son of Vertical Speed for Michael Hourigan, Just Likeold Times a 5 by Zerpour was successful for Barry O’Neill and Kieran Roche, Margaret Kenneally and Eoin O’Brien enjoyed success with a Milan mare Mystic Lass, Mikey O’Connor won on the Oscar mare For Gortnatona for Michael Winters and James David Butler was the winning trainer/jockey combination with Always Improving by Definite Article.

Its been a great season so far, the weather has been kind, the competition has been fierce and the racing has been enjoyable. It is great to see that Derek O’Connor has returned to action and with all the yards in the country, all the jockeys and all the horses in great form they will all be back in action after Christmas. For other news on the Point to Point scene keep in touch with p2p.ie over the coming weeks.

Great sales prices at Brightwells for Point to Pointers.

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Everyone is out early this morning in the Point to Point world as the make their way to Dromahane for the Duhallow Foxhound meeting. The start time is 10.30 with a strong entry of 52 horses for the Brightwells Bloodstock 4 Year Old Maiden. The same Sales company also sponsor the following contest with the 5 Year Old Geldings Maiden having 41 horses down to face the judge.

Depending of course on the declarations it looks like a divide or two is very much on the cards. So by chance and you are reading this piece this morning and you haven’t moved yet, you had better slip yourself into turbo drive to make it.

The benefit of those sales races came very much into focus over the weekend with Brightwells staging an auction to coincide with the December Gold Cup meeting at Cheltenham.

Offering 55 horses on Friday evening the sale was made up primarily of point to pointers with form between the flags this season.

Some had actually managed to have only debuted less than 7 days ago before their appearance in the sales ring.

The market for young horses with winning form is particularly strong just now with some excellent prices achieved.

The sales topper here was the aptly named Tell Us More, with the 4 year old gelding representing the first crop of the Castle Hyde Stud stallion Scorpion. This horse was trained by William Codd and ridden by his brother Jamie to win first time out at the Louth Foxhound meeting at Tattersalls Farm on the 8th of December.

Owned by William Drew he was knocked down for £290,000 to Harold Kirk and is likely yo be seen in the new year racing under the Willie Mullins banner.

Thats one great price for a horse and it capped a great week for the Codd’s with Jamies fivetimer at Tattersalls Farm , followed by his 2013 Point to Point HRI Award and this sales topper looking like Santa came very very early to Mayglass.

This sale was really good as Co Clare based Ronnie O’Leary sold his 4 year old Flemensfirth bumper winner, Mystical Dreamer to Gordon Elliot for £160,000 while two other winning pointers made the next best price of £120,000.

Tom Malone purchased Racing Europe a 4 year old by Kayf Tara from Con O’Keeffes Kilbarry Stud in Waterford for this price, while Johnjo O’Neill paid the same for the Beneficial 4 year old Oficial Ben from Denis Prendergast’s Co Tipperary yard.

Many many more winning point to pointers also found new homes here with Robert Tyner’s Co Cork yard selling Sir Abbot a 4 year old by Morozov for £85,000 to Frank Berry and Liz Doyle making £75,000 for Capote a 5 year old by Oscar. The Co Wexford trainer saw Highflyer Bloodstock sign the docket for this winner.

Its a risky enough strategy producing horses like this but when a plan comes together it makes it all worth while. These sales provide a really good opportunity for owners and trainers to turn over a few euro and clearly shows that the point to point fields provide their shop window.

Knockhouse Stud looking towards the challenge of 2014.

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Knockhouse Stud at Kilmacow in Co Kilkenny have long had a reputation as a quality horse breeding establishment.

With Stallions having been here since the 1930’s the current set up came into being with Pat Kinsella and his son Sean in 1970. The focus is now very much on the thoroughbred horse with the stud having been home to both Roselier and Beneficial. Both of these stallions have had considerable success on the track and have also left their mark on the breeding side with a reputation as broodmare sires.

The stud is still operated by Sean Kinsella but he is now ably assisted by Janet who now manages the yard. With the death of Beneficial earlier this year there was a demand to replace him on the 2014 stallion roster. They currently have Millenery, Touch of Land, Prince Flori and Subtle Power in place.

In early December Notnowcato was unveiled as the replacement with the 11 year old stallion transferring from Britain and focussing on the national hunt world.

With 4 year olds already on the ground the chesnut son of Inchinor has already had success with his progeny having sired a Listed flat winner in the shape of Chil The Kite in France.

Notnowcato was a talented racehorse amassing over €1million in prizemoney winning the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes and the Coral Eclipse Stakes as a 4 and 5 year old. He didn’t win as a 2 year old but he showed impressive improvement to progress into Group company after his 3 year old career. He was trained by Sir Michael Stoute to win 7 races over a 20 race career and 4 seasons.

While he is a winning 10 furlong horse, his sire Inchinor by Ahonoora and his dam sire Cadeaux Genereux would all indicate speed. The dam side is strengthened somewhat by the presence of Blushing Groom and Nijinsky so it will be interesting to see how he is received by breeders.

Kinsella must be happy that a cross of this speed influence with the stouter national hunt mare will be attractive to breeders and trainers.

He will be the star attraction in 2014 where he joins a five strong stallion roster.

Millenary is a Group 1 Doncaster St Leger winning son of Rainbow Quest. The 16 year old raced on for years winning multiple Group and Cup races , showing admirable courage and consistency. He is already sire of many winners both inside the rails and between the flags but just needs to get a star performer to see progress.

Sean Kinsella has always had a particular interest in German breeding having stood Lepanto in the past. Currently he stands Touch of Land with the French bred son of the German horse Lando very much fits into this mould. A Group 2 winner he showed durability and pace during his racing career and the hope is that this will transfer these to his progeny. The last couple of seasons has seen an increased level of interest in him by broodmare owners and the 13 year old just needs to solidify this by producing a winner or two on the track. His stock seem to be well regarded and the chances are that they will get a chance to race.

The other German cross in the stud is the 10 year old Lando horse Prince Flori. This Baden-Baden Group 1 winner was new to Knockhouse in 2013 having spent a couple of fruitless years at stud prior to this. He is popular with breeders and the chances are he will continue to attract attention for the next couple of years.

The final horse on the roster is the Sadler’s Wells 16 year old Subtle Power with the British Group 2 and American Group 1 horse having already had winners in Ireland and Britain with a couple of Black Type performers.

With Notnowcato their must see headline act in 2014, the full roster is strong with a good variety on offer to breeders.

Sean Kinsella and his family are only too aware of the challenges that face independent family studs in Ireland but they are hopeful that 2014 will see them build on previous years.