MYSELF and John met back in the late ‘80s through the horses, John coming from a mixed farm with horses, having hunted, did some showing and produced youngsters for sales, etc. I also came from a mixed farm but with more emphasis on horses. We both rode ponies from an early age but my biggest love was show jumping.
My hero was Caroline Bradley and her stallion Marius and I would stay up very late at night as a kid to watch her jumping on the BBC. I was in awe at how simple she made it look and I would try to copy her moves on the pony the next day.
I was on the Irish junior show jumping team for two years on a home-bred mare, Tuesday’s Child. We enjoyed great success: the team was third and I won the individual in Le Touquet in France; the following year, I was individual third in Belgium.
After a few years of producing showjumpers for my father, which were mostly sold abroad to Italy, I had the opportunity there myself to ride for Giuseppe Zancarli, who was a large importer of Irish horses at the time. It was a fantastic experience and I have some good friends still from my time there.
We moved to Courtnacuddy, Enniscorthy in 1990. There was no house, no stables, no sand arena, just a couple of loose sheds. It has been a long road....We started off with a mixture of thoroughbred and half-bred mares to breed a nice sport horse and then started to show the odd one in-hand, if we thought it was suitable.
When we started off here with the mares, we also stood Market Square, (called after the square in Enniscorthy). He was a thoroughbred stallion bred by Johns mother Joan, from Foulksmills, and was the sire of one of our first foals Quick Brown Fox, that represented Great Britain at Le Lion and was successful under Bill Levett. Later on, Market Square was second in the Croker Cup at the RDS.
We have been lucky to have a lot of success over the years. Our proudest moment was with our home-bred mare Hankalaine winning back-to-back broodmare championships at the RDS in 2014 and 2015. It’s followed closely by her 2016 foal, Mellow Lane, winning best filly foal at the RDS and then going on to win the All Ireland filly foal class at Moate soon after.
Judges David Redvers and Lady Carolyn Warren with their 2015 Coote Cup champion Hankalaine and Julia Crosbie at Dublin Horse Show \ Susan Finnerty
1. Congratulations on breeding Brewery Lane and Graceland, the reserve champion and highest-placed filly (third) in the All Ireland three-year-old final at Bannow & Rathangan Show. Tell us more about this pair.
Brewery Lane and Graceland are both home-bred, both by Cavalier Land. Brewery Lane is Hankalaine’s second foal and is the fourth generation from this line bred here. I bought his great-grandam from my father Paddy Murphy, Ballyfad. Her first foal, Mellow Lane is now eventing successfully with Emily King in the UK.
Graceland is out of Cloughabrody Esther, a mare we bought through Peadar Murphy of Cullintra Stud, having been covered by Quantino.
2. How many broodmares do you currently own?
We have always kept around 10 mares, but in recent years, as they stopped breeding, we didn’t replace them. At the moment we have two but we buy in foals/yearlings to add to ours. >Hankalaine (Hankalo (TB) x Slyguff Joker), with bloodlines going back to Nordlys and Water Serpent. She currently has a colt foal by Sibon W. >Cloughabrody Esther (Ghareeb (TB) x Stan The Man), currently has a filly foal by Cavalier Land, a full-sister to Graceland.
We also board a couple of thoroughbred mares for Peadar and Rosalinda Deveraux in the summer and their youngstock are reared here with ours. One of their progeny, which we produced for the Monart Sales and also by Cavalier Land, is now with Michael Jung and doing nicely.
3. If you could have bred any famous horse, which one would it be?
To be honest, we have never felt that way about any famous horse. We’re delighted for the people that bred them. As a breeder, we hope that the youngsters we rear will end up in the right hands who have the talent and patience to produce them to achieve the highest standard possible for them.
4. What’s your aim as a breeder?
To breed and produce quality, sound and talented youngsters that hopefully will excel in their own field.
5. Describe your regime for broodmares/youngstock.
Depending on the weather, everything is in at night from mid-November onwards and out during the day. Mares are in large stables and youngstock are in loose sheds with ad-lib haylage fed concentrates daily and mineral licks.
6. Do breeders get enough recognition?
Not really. It has improved a lot in recent years through the RDS, Horse Sport Ireland and Irish Shows Association, to name a few. However, more could be done. It is a long road from the time you select a stallion, getting your mare in foal, scanning, etc., waiting 11-12 months depending on the mare, sleepless nights making sure they arrive safely, to having a three-year-old ready to go out into the world. That’s why we feel breeders are deserving of more recognition.
7. Where do you sell your horses?
Pre-recession, most of our three- and four-year-olds were sold at the RDS, Goresbridge and Cavan sales, but recently it is divided between private sales, Goresbridge and Monart Event sales.
8. It takes a team - who is on yours?
Most of the donkey work is done by John and myself. Our daughter Lisa, a secondary school teacher, helps out as much as possible and does all our online admin, we would be lost without her. Her partner Brian, also a teacher, has been very helpful during foaling season the past couple of years. Barry and Finn O’Driscoll, our farriers, are very good with young horses and Rosalinda Deveraux, our vet, is extremely helpful with care and advice. This year, Steven Mitten, has given us a helpful hand at some of the shows.
9. Best advice/sayings?
‘There’s no good horse a bad colour.’
‘You should always go look yourself and make up your own mind.’
‘Anybody can breed/have a potential champion.’
10. Keeping the faith - one example?
Setting off to Ballinasloe Fair to look for an Irish Draught filly foal. Buying her, rearing her to three years old, having to get a private inspection in order to go to the RDS for the young ID mare class. No shows on because of the foot-and-mouth, except one local at Gorey and then winning her class at the RDS. That was Zena Grand. It just shows that to breed and/or produce young horses you have to have a little faith.