BURGAGE Stud was established after World War II, in 1946, by Terence Vigors who had been decommissioned from the RAF and had an interest in breeding.
The stud was converted to a working farm and the most famous horse they had was Sovereign Path. He won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and came here in 1961.
He was a great success – he was champion European-based sire in 1971 when his filly Humble Duty won the Guineas (also won the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes). Sovereign Path died in 1977 and that’s when we fortunately bought Burgage.
I moved back here in 1985. It was a boarding farm and we had some broodmares.
Then in 2001, in association with Ballylinch, Bob Back came here. He was a wonderful horse to have. He was a proven sire at that point and he was a tremendous success for so many people.
Getting a stallion to replace a successful stallion is always a challenge and there’s a lot of luck involved, a lot of timing, being in the right place, meeting the right people.
Having successful stallions makes you look good but there’s a lot of good fortune attached to the whole thing. We have good clients and they have good mares. We are supported and we have nice mares ourselves, but the stallions have made those nice mares.
If you keep putting mares to good stallions, a potent stallion can bring an awful lot to that situation. Bob Back mares and Shantou mares will hopefully, in time, add to what we have.
We’ve been terribly fortunate here. Good stallions make good studs, bad stallions ruin studs and I’m very conscious of that.
You take every day as it comes, enjoy what you’ve done and try and lay down the roots for the future.
Our two boys are involved in the business and hopefully they, in turn, will continue.
Everything in this business does evolve but one thing hasn’t changed – it’s the best horse, ridden by the best jockey, trained by the best trainer that wins the race.
When Gowran Park started in 1914 it was the same thing, 100 years later, nothing has changed – how we do it has changed. What’s required has changed, and it’s the same with breeding a horse. It’s the best horse, the best sire, and the winning post that’s important. It’s the only thing that’s important.
The hype, the promotion, is part of the business, but the results are what matters – that’s what I tend to adhere to.
Shantou came here in 2004. He won the St Leger for John Gosden in 1996. He was John Gosden’ first classic winner.
Shantou isn’t a big horse – he’s 15.3hh and built like a sprinter. It took some time for some of the jumping people to warm to him from a physical point of view but the results kept coming.
De Valira was a very good novice for Michael O’Brien, and it went on from there.
Shantou has been a tremendous sire for us. He’s been our Galileo – every year he’s become more and more commercial and the good winners keep coming and coming.
Shantou is 27 now, so we won’t be covering any more with him. He’s been retired. He’ll stay here as long as he’s healthy and well.
In 2017 we got Jukebox Jury. We had some contacts in Germany who were watching the racing there and we knew that the horse was there.
We knew he was a classic winner by Montjeu [similar to Walk In The Park and Authorized], so that was a good start.
We noticed in pattern races that his progeny were getting placed or running well and our contacts kept telling us that trainers liked the stock and they seemed to be getting better from two to three.
They were getting better with age. Then the horse became available for sale and fortunately we had a partnership ready and he was bought.
He came here in December 2017 and Farclas won the Triumph Hurdle three months later. It was a perfect beginning – exactly what you would wish for when promoting a stallion.
Since he’s been here, he’s had three Group 1 or Grade 1 winners, so you can’t ask for too much more than that.
He’s been popular – he’s covered between 150-160 mares each season. He has a good representation on the ground.
He is a lovely horse to deal with. He raced for four years for Mark Johnston. When you speak to Mark Johnston about him, you can see he loved the idea of having him because he was dependable.
He raced for four seasons, he won a group race in each of the four seasons. He maintained his consistency right to the end.
He dead-heated in the Irish St Leger, he won another Group 1 race, was placed in two other Group 1 races, and he raced in seven different countries.
If you think about, apart from the physical soundness, the mental soundness of a horse to take that kind of travel and variance in where he was sent, that probably says it all.
It’s important, if he has a good temperament, that he passes it on to his stock because you don’t want horses that have talent but just mentally can’t take the pressure.