I HAVE always lived in Inistioge in Co Kilkenny where we had ponies from a young age.
My husband John runs a transport business, based in Kill, Co Kildare, in which I work part-time. Seamus Drea, my brother, is a farmer and lives nearby where he keeps broodmares and has a lot of youngstock.
He also buys foals and keeps them until they’re three-year-olds; most go to the sales.
Conor, Jack’s younger brother, has no interest in riding but he does a lot of the other work around the place; cuts the hay, levels the arena and helps out when needed. Ciara, their sister, has a couple of ponies which she enjoys. She loves the foals and thinking of names for them.
1. Congratulations on breeding BBS McGregor, one of the highest-ranked Irish Sport Horses (65th) in the WBFSH rankings after his recent good form with Jack. Tell us more about this 10-year-old and upcoming plans for him.
McGregor is by Cardento out of Random Chance, by Mark Twain. He has always been a real character, he loves attention but other horses not so much!
He was always a very consistent horse and qualified for the RDS in the five, six and seven-year-olds, won the ISH studbook series as a five and seven-year-old and took the runner-up spot as a six-year-old. ‘Lucky’ also won the Irish Breeders’ Classic.
Jack moved to Shane Breen’s yard in November 2019 and took McGregor with him. He continued this consistency, moving up the international ranks and amongst his achievements are being part of two winning Nations Cup teams and taking the runner-up spot in the €150,000 World Cup qualifier in Sharjah in February. This week he heads to Sopot five-star and next week, to the Nations Cup in Prague.
2. How did the sport horse breeding part begin?
I’ve always had a keen interest in horses as a hobby, when I found myself not having time to ride due to other commitments. I wanted to keep an involvement in the sport so I decided to try my luck at breeding horses. Now, with Jack competing, the focus has shifted from a nice, commercial horse to try to breed a top showjumper using proven lines. The dream is always there.
3. Proudest moment as a breeder?
Jack and McGregor jumping a double clear on the winning Nations Cup team in Abu Dhabi five-star earlier this year. What made it all the more special was that John, Conor, Ciara and myself were all at the show.
Jack Ryan and BBS McGregor (ISH) in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi \ FEI/Martin Dokoupil
4. How many broodmares and foals do you currently have?
We breed from a small amount of mares. At the moment, I am taking embryos from Cavalier Teaca, who is very special to us. Jack jumped her to 1.50m level and she’s by Gildawn Diamond out of a Cavalier Royale dam. I’m also taking embryos from a four-year-old full-sister to McGregor.
Then there’s Lisboa TSH by Indoctro out of a Hold Up Premier mare. She has a nice pedigree and I have a couple of youngstock out of her by Pegase Van’t Ruytershof and SHS Soco Blue that are all quality types.
5. Do you have any other relatives of BBS McGregor?
We have that four-year-old full-sister which we are taking embryos from at the moment. Then there’s a six-year-old by McGregor (before he was gelded) named DSH Lucky Junior that my brother Seamus bred. He looks to have a lot of the attributes needed for the top end of the sport and is being produced by Tholm Keane.
6. What are your favourite bloodlines?
We use stallions that have history or a record of producing horses rather than just being competitive themselves. Blood, brain and rideability are the most essential qualities in the modern sport.
Choices over the last couple of years have included Cardento, Aganix, Zirocco Blue, Eldorado and Vivant and then, from the up-and-coming young stallions, Pegase Van’t Ruytershof, Lucky Luck and SHS Soco Blue, a young stallion Jack rode as a four-year-old.
7. “It takes a team.” Who’s on yours?
It certainly takes a team! Ours is a family one: John, Conor and Ciara all play their part. I discuss a lot of the breeding with Jack as he has first-hand visibility of what young stallions are making their mark in young horse classes in Europe. Seamus gets all kinds of jobs and is very good with mares, foals and handling the youngstock, we own a few horses together.
8. If you could have bred any horse which one would it be?
Explosion W! By Chacco-Blue out of Untouchable, by Baloubet du Rouet, he is such a consistent horse at the very top level.
9. What advice would you give to a young breeder starting off?
Breed within your budget. Plan what your end market is: to sell as a foal, three-year-old or keep to produce.
Go and see what others are doing, visit stallions and youngster shows in Ireland.
If possible, go abroad so you can benchmark what’s being produced in those bigger markets and if you get the opportunity, go visit breeding farms in Europe where you can have a look at lots of foals and youngstock.
10. Your favourite show?
Dublin Horse Show, where I would love to see Jack back competing
McGregor in the international classes.