Our highly anticipated trip to County Tipperary has finally come and gone, and what a trip it was! I know I have oohed and aaaahed over the other studs we have visited, but Coolmore was something else entirely! There are no words. Oh My God! Upon arrival we were greeted in the office and whisked straight over the road to the stallion complex. As we walked down under the huge leafy trees, passing by Mastercraftsmen and Montjeu's private stables, who did we see standing quietly in his gateway, in a paddock to the left of the stallion stable complex, ready to greet his new admirers, but "the one". Sadler's Wells. THE Sadler's Wells! Just standing there quietly thinking to himself, here we go again! We have seen some brilliant stallions on our stud tours, but everybody went silent as soon as we saw him. A young New Zealand fella proceeded to bring him out of his paddock for us to get up close and personal with him. At 29 years of age (born in 1981) he certainly looked his age, but still had that swagger about him, he still knows how good he is! After such a full and busy life, he was happy for hugs and kisses from all of us, and stood patientally for us all to pat him and have our moment with him. I, like many others, was overwhelmed to be able to be in the presence of such an unbelievable horse. I am so proud to be able to say that I have seen him in the flesh, I have touched him, he even gave me a kiss on the cheek!
After we spent a good half hour with Sadler's we were shown the rest of the stallions. First out was fittingling Galileo, Sadler's Wells best sire son. He was gorgeous, with an amazing walk on him, it was more prowling like a tiger than walking along! We then saw Dylan Thomas, Fastnet Rock, Danehill Dancer, High Chapperal, Montjeu, Oratorio and Rock of Gibraltar. Unfortunately the others had already gone into quarantine for their trips to the southern hemisphere. Even so, being able to see these top class stallions in the flesh was very cool!
We then had a quick look through the breeding shed, again outstanding, then it was back on the bus for a tour of the rest of the farm. There is not much to say, as the standard was above all others, the horses are happy, the staff are happy, the dogs are happy. If you were a horse, this is where you would want to be! All the staff we met had a laugh and a joke with us, it was all relaxed and casual. We were all made to feel welcome. Driving past the paddocks Group 1 winning mares with their foals at foot were pointed out, dams of group performing and producing sires, dams of the class and quality you would expect to see. Back to the office, a quick look around the graveyard out the back from stallions past such as the great Danehill, the ill-fated George Washington, Golden Fleece, Caerleon, Be My Guest, Fairy King and Mozart. Then it was a superb lunch in the board room, beautiful paintings lined the all the walls. We were introduced to Christy Grassick, a former INS student, and general manager of Coolmore, had a quick chat about our time in Ireland and what our goals and ambitions were. Once again we were warmly welcomed back at any time with our family, partners and friends, whenever we wanted to show them around. Then it was back on the bus to Ballydoyle.
Ballydoyle is the Coolmore training complex, run by Aiden O'Brien. We were highly priveleged to be allowed inside Ballydoyle, and were greeted my Mr O'Brien himself (a first for the INS students, who have previously only been allowed to see from the gates). As he is a hugely busy man, we were left in the hands of a wonderful woman, whose name I am so sorry escapes me at the moment!! She was a wealth of knowledge, and gave a fantastic tour of the yards. The yards are seperated, 2yo fillies and colts, 3yo fillies and colts, classic horses and older horses. Each horse has its own stable, with its own yard attached at the back of its stable. Each horse has its own tack room next to its stable, with its own equipment that is with is for life. It is all very conscentious of keeping out disease. As we walked around we came upon a group of horses all being led to have a pick of grass. As they stood around we pointed out who they were, all superstars! We saw Cape Blanco, who had won the Irish Derby the weekened before, Jan Vermeer who ran 2nd to him, as well as many others who I can remember at the moment, but who included the Aussie horse Starspangledbanner, who had won the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot the week before.
I could go on forever about the amazing things we saw, people and horses we met but I would be here all night, and it is already past 11pm! But I promise I have HEAPS of photos, 140 of this day to be exact, which you will all see in 10 days when I get home!
Hope you're all well