Last week saw the presentation, finally, of the postponed Connolly’s Red Mills/The Irish Field Breeders of the Year trophies for 2019-2020
THE world has been turned upside down for more than a year now.
As a consequence, the presentation of the monthly and annual awards for the 2019-20 Connolly’s Red Mills/The Irish Field breeder competition was put on the long finger.
With no sign of an opportunity yet to stage a get-together for those dozen award recipients, this week saw the trophies despatched by post, with two lucky breeders getting a call to their farms. Initiated in 2005, the awards for many years saw just a single breeder of the year accolade given. That changed a few years ago and now there is an award each for the flat and National Hunt.
Both of this year’s award recipients have a long and distinguished history of success in their respective fields, and this weekend, across all social media platforms, you will find video tributes to our two most recent winners of this coveted award.
The name Mernagh is synonymous with success at the highest level, and Jim Mernagh is a man for whom the entire National Hunt sector has the greatest regard. He and his wife Margaret were on hand this week to receive a Breeder of the Month award for Latest Exhibition, and the National Hunt Breeder of the Year trophy to boot.
From Moscow Flyer to Deep Bramble, Artic Ale to Latest Exhibition, these and many more names are some examples of the great horses to have passed through Jim’s hands. He is also a great friend and mentor to many, a go-to man when you want advice on matters relating to racing or breeding, and he is a truly deserving recipient of the Breeder of the Year trophy for a lifetime of contribution to the industry.
The flat award is for Moyglare Stud, surely ranking as one of the greatest owner-breeder operations in the world since its founding more than half a century ago by Walter Haefner. Now owned and overseen by his daughter Eva Maria, the farm is an oasis of tranquillity on the outskirts of the university town of Maynooth. Many champions have been bred and raced from there, and one of the favourites has to be Search For A Song.
Now winner of two editions of the Group 1 Irish St Leger, she will hopefully peak again this autumn and try to give Dermot Weld yet another success in a race for which he has great bragging rights.
Malachy Ryan was on hand this week to accept the Breeder of the Year trophy from Joe Connolly of Red Mills and The Irish Field editor Leo Powell.
Both Jim Mernagh and Moyglare Stud join a truly great cast of previous winners of this prestigious award, and this week Joe Connolly committed his company’s support to the competition for the coming year.
2019-20 National Hunt Breeder of the Year, Jim Mernagh \ Claire Nash
The popularity of these awards has never waned in the now 16 years that they have been in place.
Joe Connolly said: “When this proposal was put to me originally I made an immediate decision to support it. It goes to the backbone of the industry, celebrating the people who make the matings, sit up at night waiting for the foaling, nurture and care for the young stock and hope to breed a good horse. I take my hat off to all the breeders in our great industry.”
“The unwavering support and friendship of Joe, his family and all the team at Connolly’s Red Mills adds greatly to the importance of these awards. It is a great pity that we could not all gather to celebrate these 12 deserving winners, but hopefully their lovely mementoes will be a reminder of great wins, and I wish them all well in the future.”
The competition for the 2020-21 season is well under way and next week will see the latest nominees for the month of April.
JEROME Sheehan bred the Stowaway gelding The Worlds End who won the December 2019 Connolly’s Red Mills/The Irish Field Breeder of the Month. Sadly, he died in March this year.
His wife Ethna said this week: “Thank you for the gorgeous trophy. Being chosen as Breeder of the Month gave Jerome enormous pleasure. He was passionate about horses and breeding, which brought immeasurable joy to his life. He has passed his love of the sport on to his grandsons. We are very proud to have Jerome remembered in this way.”
All of the team at The Irish Field and Connolly’s Red Mills were touched by these kind words of Ethna and we pass on our deepest condolences to her and all of Jerome’s family.
CONNOLLY’S RED MILLS/THE IRISH FIELD BREEDER OF THE YEAR WINNERS
2005-2006 DAVID & DIANE NAGLE
2006-2007 JIM BOLGER
2007-2008 SEAMUS BURNS
2008-2009 LING TSUI
2009-2010 BALLYMACOLL STUD
2010-2011 JACK RONAN & DES VERE HUNT
2011-2012 JOHN TUTHILL
2012-2013 TALLY-HO STUD
2013-2014 BALLYLINCH STUD
2014-2015 JIM BOLGER
2015-2016 FLAT – YEOMANSTOWN STUD & DOC BLOODSTOCK
2015-2016 NATIONAL HUNT – EUGENE BOURKE
2016-2017 FLAT – BRENDAN AND ANNE MARIE HAYES
2016-2017 NATIONAL HUNT – PADDY BEHAN
2017-2018 NATIONAL HUNT – PAUL ROTHWELL
2018-2019 FLAT – AIDAN AND ANNEMARIE O’BRIEN
2019-2020 NATIONAL HUNT – JIM MERNAGH