Festival of Traditional Breeding – Sponsorship Announcement

Plans for the new Festival of Traditional Breeding, in conjunction with Limerick Show, received a boost this week with the announcement that top racehorse trainer Jim Bolger is to sponsor the Limerick Matron and foal championships. This prestigious championship, in addition to the Limerick Lady final, three and four-year-old potential sport horse classes and stallion parade will be held on Sunday, August 25th and is being organised by the Traditional Irish Horse Association (TIHA).

Hugh Leonard, TIHA chairman, welcomed Bolger’s €2,000 sponsorship saying “This is a very generous contribution by a world-renowned trainer and shows the wide-ranging support within this country for traditional breeding. The committee is working hard to make the new festival a showcase for traditional-breds and Jim’s generosity is a wonderful gesture”.

A noted GAA fan, Wexford-born Bolger’s interests extend to the sporthorse world and in fact he competed in show jumping, including an RDS appearance, before switching to racehorse training. “I still have an interest in a few show jumpers with Paddy Quinlan, including Ballymore Eustace who is competing in Aachen this weekend. My father used to breed from traditional-bred mares, they doubled as working horses and always seemed to be happy and healthy. I’m very happy about sponsoring the Limerick Matron and I’d like to give every encouragement to the people who breed these type of horses”.

Amongst the stream of Bolger-trained winners was Orbis, partnered to two of his 10 racecourse wins by Aidan O’Brien during his champion amateur jockey years. The American-bred Conquistador Cielo son later stood at Richard Woodroofe’s Raheenmore Stud and is the sire of David Cosby’s good mare Ballycreen Anouschka, who has bred several smart eventers.

Leonard also clarified the qualification criteria for the Limerick Lady qualifiers which have to date attracted low entries. Eligible non-Irish Draught fillies must be by either thoroughbred, traditionally-bred Irish Sport Horse or Irish Draught sires and have been registered with the Irish Horse Register as foals.

“This is exactly why the Traditional Irish Horse Association was re-launched as these traditionally-bred fillies have become extremely scarce and we may well see quality, rather than quantity in the final this August. We are seeing a swing back to traditional breeding and expect that numbers will increase in future years, so we would urge owners of suitable two-year-old fillies to support the qualifiers as they will then be eligible for future Limerick Matron championships and premiums”.

One former Limerick Lady champion who will not be lining out for the Limerick Matron final is the 2009 winner Irish Light, who was recently purchased by UK buyer Kathy Woods. The Kings Master filly brought off an unprecedented treble that summer for owner Anthony Gordon summer by winning the All Ireland final at Kildysart, followed by the Owen Ryan Cup awarded to the champion filly at Dublin Horse Show and completed her hat-trick with the Limerick Lady crown.

“Her loss is still a gain as she will be a great ambassador for traditional Irish breeding and our biggest customers are still our neighbours across the Irish Sea” added Leonard.

(Susan Finnerty, Published in The Irish Field, Saturday 29th June 2013)

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