Why the ITM Stallion Trail provides racing fans with the ultimate road trip
Friday and Saturday will see Ireland's studs opening their doors to the public
The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) Irish Stallion Trail returns for its sixth edition on Friday and Saturday. A two-day national showcase for the Irish thoroughbred breeding industry, the Trail involves more than 25 leading stallion farms opening their doors to breeders and the public.
The event has become an annual pilgrimage for visitors from across Ireland and further afield, and the 2020 line-up will surely draw strong interest once again.
Here, ITM marketing executive Alex Cairns offers five reasons to hit the road during the trail and visit some of Ireland’s outstanding stallion farms.
1 Champions on show
Irish-bred and -sired horses consistently hit the heights on the global stage and much of this success is down to Ireland’s top-class stallions and the farms that they call home.
Eight of the top ten sires by winners in Europe in 2019 stand in Ireland and many of these champions will be on display during the ITM Irish Stallion Trail.
These include multiple champion Flat sire Galileo at Coolmore Stud, leading National Hunt sire Doyen at Sunnyhill Stud, multiple Group 1 sire Dark Angel at Yeomanstown Stud, four-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Yeats at Castlehyde Stud, and many more.
The Irish stallion roster remains among the strongest in the world and the Stallion Trail is the perfect opportunity to see some of its leading lights in the flesh.
2 New kids on the block
2020 will be a bumper year for new stallions in Ireland, with some highly significant new additions in both the Flat and National Hunt spheres.
These include Royal Ascot record-breaker Blue Point at Kildangan Stud, Classic winner Phoenix Of Spain at the Irish National Stud, multiple Group 1 winner Poet’s Word at Boardsmill Stud, proven top-level National Hunt sire Blue Bresil at Glenview Stud, and Arc winner Waldgeist at Ballylinch.
For many, the Trail will offer the first chance to see these champions at stud and assess their credentials as they embark on their exciting new careers.
3 Spectacular settings
The Irish countryside is famed across the globe for its pristine environment and diverse features.
Ireland’s stud farms occupy some of the most prized land in Europe, helping them raise the strong and sound stock that go on to such remarkable success around the world.
Rich pasture combined with beautifully maintained buildings and state-of-the-art facilities are all part of the journey of an Irish thoroughbred and those embarking on the Trail will surely be wowed by the spectacular settings Irish stallions call home.
4 Irish hospitality
Ireland is rightly famed for its world-class hospitality and all visitors on the Irish Stallion Trail are assured a very warm welcome at each of the studs kindly opening their doors.
In an open and friendly atmosphere, breeders will have the opportunity to view a high number of stallions in a condensed period and racing fans will be able to learn more about the thoroughbred breeding industry.
Stallions will be presented by the studs’ expert owners and staff, highlighting the diverse range of types, pedigrees, and fees on offer.
Many studs will also offer some light refreshments, adding to the Trail’s convivial vibe and helping visitors refuel as they continue their way.
5 Behind the scenes
With Ireland’s studs being home to some of the most prized stallions on the planet, it is not surprising that they can sometimes have high walls.
During the ITM Irish Stallion Trail the gates will be thrown open, providing passionate racing fans with access to places they might have imagined to be out of reach.
Getting close to Sea The Stars at Gilltown Stud, seeing top National Hunt stallion Flemensfirth at The Beeches, or being in the presence of dual Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Conduit at Tullyraine House Stud make for unforgettable moments, whether you are directly involved in the racing industry or not.
So register now at www.itm.ie/stalliontrail and don’t miss out. See you on the Trail!
Also not to be missed is the Racing Post's supplement, free in Thursday's newspaper and available online