Gigginstown stun racing world with plan to wind down famous operation
Just a month after Tiger Roll’s epic second Grand National triumph, Eddie O’Leary has stunned the racing world by revealing that the Aintree legend’s all-conquering owners Gigginstown House Stud will wind down what has become one of the sport's most successful ownership entities over the next few years.
The scaling-back policy will begin with immediate effect, as O’Leary announced his brother Michael’s operation, which has an estimated value to the industry of close to €15 million per annum, will not be restocking at the store sales.
It is estimated that Gigginstown sourced around 50 unbroken three-year-olds a year from the different sales houses, so their absence from that market will be keenly felt over the next couple of months.
Speaking on behalf of his brother Michael O'Leary, Eddie O'Leary said: "Michael’s children are now growing with their activities, leaving less and less time for racing last season and for the foreseeable future.
"We’ve just had our best season ever in terms of winners and it’s been an amazing year capped by Tiger Roll winning the Grand National for the second time last month.
“We have lots of young stock to be allocated among our trainers over the coming weeks and each of our trainers will receive their usual allocation of young point-to-pointers."
It is a blow of potentially seismic proportions for the industry in Ireland, not least for Gordon Elliott, who has been the most heavily reliant on the reigning champion owners following their 2016 split with Willie Mullins.
Henry de Bromhead, Noel Meade and Joseph O'Brien are the other Gigginstown trainers, with Pat Doyle and Mouse Morris handling the point-to-pointers.
Breeders, vendors, sales companies and the point-to-point realm will also be seriously impacted by the impending loss of O’Leary’s ownership behemoth, which last season saw 225 individual horses grace the track.
GIGGINSTOWN IN NUMBERS
91 Grade 1 wins
3,937,203 prize-money in euros in Ireland in 2018-19
892,431 prize-money in pounds in Britain in 2018-19
162 winners in Britain and Ireland in 2018-19
7 owners' championship titles in Ireland
2 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners (War Of Attrition 2006; Don Cossack 2016)
3 Grand National winners (Rule The World 2016; Tiger Roll 2018 and 2019)
3 Punchestown Gold Cup winners (War Of Attrition 2006; Sir Des Champs 2013; Don Cossack 2015)
13 Gigginstown runners in this year's Irish Grand National
Michael O'Leary added: "We wish to sincerely thank all our trainers and their teams for the enormous success we've enjoyed over the past decade, but as my children are growing into teenagers I'm spending more and more of my time at their activities and I have less and less time for National Hunt racing, a situation that will continue for the foreseeable future.
"I hope that by running down our string over an extended four-or-five-year period it will give our trainers ample time to replace our horses without disruption."
O'Leary's departure will also change the shape of the sport in Britain.
Since the ubiquitous maroon and white silks that have been synonymous with the Ryanair chief executive’s recreational venture were first worn to victory by Tuco in the 2001 Goffs Land Rover Bumper, Gigginstown horses have become a staple in jump racing’s most prestigious events.
When Tiger Roll emulated the legendary Red Rum by winning back-to-back Nationals on April 6, it was the third time in four years that the £1 million Aintree showpiece went O’Leary’s way following Rule The World’s 2016 success for Morris and David Mullins.
In 2006, Morris saddled War Of Attrition to claim a famous Cheltenham Gold Cup victory under Conor O’Dwyer. A decade later, the Gigginstown silks were again carried to glory in the sport’s blue riband event when Don Cossack won for Elliott and Bryan Cooper.
In total, 91 Grade 1s have gone to Gigginstown horses.
They have 27 Cheltenham Festival wins. JP McManus is the only active owner to have enjoyed more success at the festival.
In securing nearly €4m in domestic prize-money last season, Gigginstown topped the owners’ championship in Ireland for a fifth time in succession and a seventh in all.
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