Many times the creators of a product or activity get less credit than those who benefit from it. This is indeed true regarding the Horse Sport Ireland Studbook Series for five, six and seven-year-old horses. The series was brought into being by the Irish Horse Board (IHB) 18 years ago in 2004.

At that time the IHB was playing catch up with what had been happening in the young horse world for the previous 10 years within the World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses annual World Young Horse Championship at Lanaken in Belgium.

Commandant John Ledingham, who has both competed at Lanaken and has acted as selector of the Irish squads there many times says: “The Irish Stud Book series was created to give our young horses the chance to jump on the best surfaces available so that they would develop well and in the long run be more valuable for our Irish owners and breeders.”

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said at the launch of the 2022 series: “The series plays a major role in supporting and promoting equine breeding success through the industry, as these young horses learn the ropes.”

This year

For this year’s series, nine venues with permanent well maintained arenas host a round. At each, there is a class for five, six and seven-year-olds and total prize money of €9,000. The overall final at Tattersalls in June will have €12,500 on offer.

John Ledingham notes: “These prizes can help defray the expense of keeping a young horse in the country for one more year as it matures and has a chance of Lanaken selection.”

However, some breeders and agents I have spoken with would like to see both the prize money and the number of participating venues being vastly expanded. Minister McConalogue noted at the launch that his department is delighted to help develop initiatives like the Studbook Series.

So, perhaps the will is there to make it even more lucrative for breeders, owners and riders to participate.

At the opening round of this year’s series at Meadows Equestrian Centre in Lurgan, much of the honours went to the Bravo/Hughes HHS brand from Cuffsgrange, Kilkenny.

Marion Hughes, her husband Miguel Bravo and their family, along with their top-class rider Michael Pender combined to show how it should be done: this series gives them a platform in which to do that. Mikey took first and second in the seven-year-old class and Marion and Miguel’s daughters Marta and Molly jumped double clears in the five and six-year-old sections.

Still to come: Barnadown, Cavan, Mullingar, Ard Chuain (Mayo), Maryville (Cork) and the final at Tattersalls on 23 and 24 July.