It was only a natural progression for Nicola McCarthy to become involved in the horse breeding craft. Her interest stemmed from a very young age as her father Paddy was a point-to-point jockey and her mother Susan was an International Groom for the renowned Jack Doyle, meaning that Nicola’s powerful surge of interest was only to be expected.
“I started off in Carberry Pony Club and I was with them until the age of 16. While still in school, I secured a part-time job and during my holidays from school, I worked with John J Murphy, a racehorse trainer from Uptown, Innishannon.” Nicola McCarthy told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
Nicola spent three solid years with Mr. Murphy, travelling to and from the races and sales around the Irish island and across the waters in the U.K, France and Germany. “I had many great days with John. I led up my first winner Matchbook who won on our local track in Cork, the Martinstown opportunity hurdle.” Nicola explained.
A Striking Passion
With years’ of experience under her belt, now aged, twenty-four, the Meelin, Bandon, Co. Cork native spends her time managing the family-run Meelin Stud with her parents but also has a strong association with other Irish stud farms. With many seeking her knowledge, expertise and assistance, she has also secured a position with one of Ireland’s leading farms, Ballyhane Stud, based in Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, being responsible for sales preparation.
Meelin Stud is home to numerous point-to-pointers, hunter trial horses and showing horses along with three highly-proven stallions. The roster includes two thoroughbreds Aristotle and Zebdhiah and the farm’s Irish Draught stallion Penmerryls Rhythm and Blues, all of which Nicola believes are bursting with “streams of potential.”
“We show our horses at a young age until they’re ready for breaking and then go point-to-pointing with them. We have two lovely pointers in at the moment; we are ready to get going with those.” Nicola said.
With a vast portfolio and a cabinet of prestigious silverware to signify their success, Nicola is no stranger to show and sales rings in Ireland and overseas.
“I’ve been out in Australia for two of the Sales seasons with Coolmore Australia. It was a phenomenal experience and I led some top quality yearlings and mares through the ring.” Nicola explained.
[220,000 yearling Nutshell x Dandy Man]
A direct involvement in the sector for over one decade means that identifying a single high point is a task of great difficulty for the young horse enthusiast, who was selected as the Young Handler of the Year in 2015.
“My first time in Cheltenham was back in 2012 whereI led up my first ever Cheltenham winner Salsify for Rodger Sweeney. He won the Christie Foxhunters Chase over there. The atmosphere was like magic I couldn’t believe it.” Nicola said.
As recent as last year, Nicola experienced major success with her horse Rodeo Dodo, who was trained by her father, assisted by jockey James O’ Reilly and ridden by jockey Declan Queally in the five-year-old upwards hunts maiden category of the annual Carbey Hunt Point-to-Point meeting at Bandon.
“We are immensely proud, as we all took a major chance and it paid off. This win will go down in history as my Mum won the very same race and cup twenty odd years ago.” Nicola added.
Now based in Co. Carlow due to work commitments and satisfied in her current role, Nicola would not rule out returning to her native soil in the future. “I would love to have around 5-10 point-to-pointers and a few horses for the sales including foals and yearlings,” Nicola said.
“It is all about keeping the dream alive. It is true what is often said when working with horses you have got to love what you do or don’t work with them at all.” Nicola concluded.
If you are a Horse Breeder and you want to share your story, get in touch. Email CatherinaCunnane@gmail.com and your story may just be featured on That’s Farming next week!