Of all the programmes currently run by Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) there are none more important than its mare enhancement schemes.

During four crucial decades at the end of the last century, Irish equestrianism’s bid to remain competitive in terms of producing top jumpers was severely hampered, and operated at around about 30% potency due to its lack of performance mares. Now in their 12th season, HSI’s annual mare inspections, are aimed at addressing this deficit.


The 2021 spring series of the HSI sport horse inspections have just been completed and the results are now to hand. At the six inspection venues of Tubberbride, Creagh, Warrington, Ballybrack, Kernans, and Greenogue, a total of 60 sport horse mares were assessed for pedigree, veterinary, conformation, movement and athleticism.

Of those, a respectable 44% achieved an overall average of 70% in the first four categories and were passed as “select”. In addition, 12 of those scored 80% or over in athleticism and were awarded “one star” status.

Irish Draught turnout

There was a healthy turnout of 86 Irish Draught mares during this spring series. A good 80% of those achieved Class I status.

Of those, 18 were given a bronze merit designation. Since this programme began back in 2010 a total of 1,985 Irish Draught mares have been presented for inspection and 1,182 have been declared Class I.

In the sport horse section 1,264 mares have been inspected and of those 1,003 have been termed “select”.

Revival pioneers

Before HSI’s mare or stallion inspections began, a group of visionary pioneers of performance breeders were already “putting the best to the best to get the best”.

And the results are now emerging. For example, as already reported in these pages, during the first four months of 2021 Irish-bred show jumpers averaged more prizemoney winnings than any other stud book – including those of the Netherlands and Germany.

Topping the list of Irish breeders was Donegal’s Simon Scott for Pacino Amiro (Pacino X Amiro OC) with earnings of €160,000. Next was Judy Murphy of County Louth whose products Javas Miss Jordan (Luidam X O.B.O.S. Quality) and HHS Javas Gucci (Luidam X Cruising) won €156,000.

Third came the late Ita Brennan, whose programme accounts for five international jumpers at the moment led by Kilkenny (VDL Cardento X Guidam).

Ita, of course, was also responsible for the Olympic horse Going Global. It is interesting to note that all of the above horses were ridden by Irish riders – Bertram Allan, Mikey Pender, Nicky Galligan and Cian O’Connor. Ita Brennan’s niece Marion Hughes has eight horses competing who have won almost €70,000. Some turnaround from where matters stood back in 2000.