Irish National Stud, Co. Kildare, Ireland
By Judy Evans
November 8, 2015 5:52pm CST
As I am so interested in horses, a visit to the Irish National Stud was on our list of 'things to see and do'. On our way we passed Curragh Racecourse with its lovely sculptures of a 'flying filly' and a racehorse and jockey. The founder of the Irish National Stud, William Hall Walker was born in 1856 and was the of a wealthy brewing family originally from Scotland. He led a colourful life and his visionary declarations marked him as a major force in the world of Thoroughbreds. While in India with the army, he became fascinated with Eastern philosophies including Buddhism and astrology. There is a beautiful Japanese Garden which is part of the Stud. When Walker's horse The Soarer won the Grand National in 1896, he was able to purchase farmland at Tully and established a stud farm. He applied astrological theories to his breeding program. The stables allow maximum exposure to celestial influences through skylights in the roofs. Astrological charts were produced for each foal. If the omens weren't good, the foal was sold immediately. Walker became a leading breeder in his time, gathering an impressive group of broodmares. From 1904 to 1914, the stud produced seven Classic winners. In 1915, he gifted Tully Stud and its stock to the crown thus leading to the establishment of the Irish National Stud. We were able to walk along the lanes between the stallions' paddocks. A number of stallions are kept here and may be flown in to stand a season or two at the stud. On each fence was a plaque giving the horse's name and other details. There were also information boards on the stable doors. One paddock has six or so retired hurdler champions. One barn contained mares with young foals. These were being led out to paddocks while we were there. There is a also a museum which has the skeleton of Arkle on show. Arkle was a beloved Irish thoroughbred regarded by some as a freak of nature. He won 27 of his 35 starts, all over jumps, and became a legend with the Irish people. I also loved the sculptures made of driftwood. And the little dog belonged to friends of Damian who kindly let us park our van in their yard for the night. Isn't he cute?
5 people like this
• Bunbury, Australia
9 Nov 15
@jaboUK I can quite believe that. Isn't it thrilling to watch a champion in action? Some years ago we had three champion pacers in West Oz. They had many a battle and were just so far ahead of any of their other rivals. It gave me goosebumps to watch them.