Horse Breeder of the Week: Ballylinch Stud making waves in Kilkenny


Catherina meets Mark Byrne of the leading Ballylinch Stud in Kilkenny.

Horse Breeder of the Week: Ballylinch Stud making waves in Kilkenny

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Catherina meets Mark Byrne of the leading Ballylinch Stud in Kilkenny.

Boasting over a decade of powerful success, Ballylinch Stud is one of the most magnificent studs to be found on Irish soil.

Sitting on over 1,000 acres, the Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny- based enterprise is currently owned by a man the other side of Irish waters, an American entrepreneur, Mr. John Malone of Bridlewood Farm, Florida.

This recent movement made history, as it was the second time in a solid decade that the stud had experienced a change of ownership.

Following the recent business takeover in 2014, a further investment was made in 700 acres in the lands of Castlemartin, Co. Kildare. This large plot then merged with the Ballylinch stud.

Between the two counties; Kildare and Kildare a joint 1,700 acres makes up the stud.

Finding Ground

This success winds back the clock to the tradition started by Dermot McCalmont in 1914 and his prized Tetrarch. The world famous unbeaten racehorse has a name of familiarity to many equine enthusiasts, as he leaves a long lasting legacy behind him. The tracks made are imprinted as a major milestone in the Irish Bloodstock industry.
The philosophy inspired by Mr. McCalmot one-hundred-and-three years ago is central to the 21st century running of the stud.

Paving Paths

Seven top thoroughbred breeding stallions now dominate the pastures in Kilkenny, alongside a further seven hundred mares.

Having successfully beaten off stern competition from international world-leading entries from France and U.K at prestigious competitions, the stallions are making waves in the highly competitive bloodstock industry.

‘All stallions currently standing in the stud have at least won one top class. This is a core part of their selection criteria.’ Mark Byrne, head of Marketing and Nominations told That’s Farming.

New Blood

The 2017 calendar has welcomed the addition of two further sires to the already exciting exceptional offerings.

Fascinating Rock and New Bay are two top class stallions with proven bloodlines, emerging onto the horse scene.

At €20,000 per cover, New Bay is one that is already fetching sizeable interest, with his first two mares scanned successfully in foal in February of this year.

These winning stallions will stand alongside other group-one winners including Dream Ahead, Lawman, Lope de Vega, Make Believe and Beat Hollow.

The high standard of Genetics have been widely recognised as Lope de Vega took the place of being one of the best sires to be found around Europe just last year.

Scooping this title has resulted in the Bloodstock industry placing firm belief in Lope, becoming the hottest pick of the stud’s current offerings.

He stands at €50,000 per serve, according to Mark. A consistent breeder, Lope has thirty-four stake performers and European Champion two-year-old Belardo to his name.

Sale Leaders

With stallions boasting proven potential, the stud continues to sky-rocket to success.

Ballylinch stallions have transmitted their powerful performance to progeny and have gone on to sire many sale topping progeny.

€1.1 million was pocketed at Goffs in 2014 for the stud’s Sea The Stars x Green Room half-sister to Together Forever, another winner that sold for a grand total of a notable €680,000.

As recent as 2016 has seen a further €900,000 popping into the kitty for a filly hailing from the Ballylinch Stud.

‘The sale of yearlings has proven to be a success for us. Every year, we sell off numerous yearlings, which takes place at the end of August usually.’ Mark explained.

Running the Show

Mark is one of fifty people that are employed between the joint-stud farms.

Attending sales on behalf of the stud, going to race meetings and recording bookings daily are among his responsibilities for over one year now.

‘I enjoy my role as the unpredictability of every day remains an enjoyable aspect. Seeing the horses scooping success and just meeting people at events are among my highlights’ Mark explained.

Future Plans

When asked about future plans, Mark revealed how the stud will focus on the retention of quality, and look at further up-scaling in the long run.

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