When it comes to horseracing, few things are more sought-after than a prize-winning stallion. The term ‘stud’ is used to refer to horses with a proven track record who have been retired by their owners. The objective of putting a horse out to stud is to ensure it mates with female horses to produce a future generation of prize winners.
But how does the process of studding work? And how are future champion horses bred in Ireland? Let’s take a look now.
The breeding of future champions.
Retired stallions with a proven track record are hot property indeed. Studs command thousands in fees and can prove extremely lucrative to their owners. They are paired with female horses known as stud mares, and all interactions are noted in a studbook.
By breeding a racehorse with similar characteristics to the ideal stud and mare, the hope is that the owner will strike lucky and be able to breed the next champion racer.
Ireland’s love affair with thoroughbreds.
In Ireland, there are more horses per head of population than in anywhere else in Europe. Ireland’s love affair with horses long pre-dates the arrival of Byerley Turk, one of the founding Arabian stallions, but it was perhaps his arrival that shaped the national obsession with the thoroughbred.
The countryside and natural environment in Ireland are perfect for breeding thoroughbreds, and it is for this reason that several studs have been established in the country. In the past decades, Ireland has produced many of the most successful horses anywhere in the world, and this is a direct result of the expertise and investment into the famous Irish studs.
Studs in Ireland.
Ireland has several studs throughout the country, each of which is a thoroughbred horse breeding facility. The Irish National Stud Centre is in Tully, County Kildare, and is owned by the Irish government. But the premier stud in Ireland is undoubtedly Coolmore, home to many of the finest sires in the world, each of which commands a huge fee and have champion reputations.
Coolmore is owned by the Magnier family, which has long been associated with producing a sequence of top-class stallions since the 1850s. Led by John Magnier, Coolmore is now arguably the number one stud facility in the world and is home to some of the top sires, including the world-famous Galileo, who we introduce in more detail below.
Galileo – the number one sire in the world.
The finest sire in the world is Galileo, who currently stands at Coolmore. In June of last year, he officially became the most successful G1 shire ever, as his daughter Peaceful won the 1000 Irish Guineas. He has produced 12 championships, 89 G1 winners, 20 G1 producing sons, and five Epsom Derby winners. He has returned millions in prize money for his owners – in 2019 alone; he racked up a remarkable £16.1 million.
2021 is Galileo’s 14th year as a private stallion, and while his price isn’t published, it’s thought to be somewhere in excess of £500,000. In spite of his age [he recently turned 23], Galileo still covered 120 mares in 2020 alone. With a few years left in him, Galileo is likely to continue producing champions in the near future.
The stud business in Ireland is responsible for producing many of the finest thoroughbred horses that the world has ever seen. Coolmore is revered the world over for standing the finest thoroughbred sires, so anyone who is serious about training a world champion would certainly benefit from heading to one of the Irish facilities to begin the process.