The Breeders behind the Irish Army horse (Part 2)

  • 8 May 2020, 16:52

The Army Equitation school primary mission is to promote the Irish horse, support Irish breeders and to advertise the Irish bred sport horse through participation in international events in both Eventing and Show Jumping at the highest level. Since its establishment in 1926, army riders have competed at top international events from Nations Cups to the Olympics, all while riding and promoting Irish Sport Horses.

Tempo Manor (ISH) formally known as Candy Man is by Sligo Candy Boy (ISH) out of Roxy Lux (ISH) by Lux Z (HANN). This 2012 gelding was bred by Noel Wright in Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. Noel has a mixed farm with suckler cows, beef cattle and two brood mares. Noel’s 80 acre farm is located between Enniscrone and Easkey in County Sligo. Noel’s first love of horses came from spending time with his uncle who used to keep horses. Like many Irish breeders Noel then decided to jump in and buy his first mare ‘Roxy Lux’. This mare is by Lux Z (HANN) and out of a Don Juan De La Bouverie (sBs) mare.

When buying this mare Noel liked her pedigree, type and temperament. Noel said:

“I have such a soft spot for this mare. From day one she was my pet, so I then decided to breed her. Sligo Candy boy was a good fit and the Howley’s are so easy to deal with. Tempo Manor was her first foal and he is such a nice type. Unfortunately, the following year our mare was hit by lightning. It was touch and go. The vet wanted to put her down. We loved her too much to allow that to happen. Six months of sleepless nights and willing her back to health eventually got her back on her feet.

“It was a tough time, but she came through with plenty of TLC. For a life with animals you need to love them, and this means not giving up on them. Now because of this, money couldn’t buy her. Two years ago, we decided to put her back in foal after her accident and our plan is to continue to breed with her. Last year we had a full brother to Temple Manor who is also a lovely type. We hope he will go down the same road, with some luck we will sell him to someone who will give him every opportunity to compete to the top level. We were very lucky with Temple Manor, we sold him as a three-year-old and he was then broken by Vincent Howley before going to Gabriel Tunney where he began his competition career. I have followed him to various shows and its always a pleasure to watch him compete.

“I have also visited McKee Barracks where is was a real joy to see him and to know how well he is being cared for there by the grooms. Geoff [Curran] keeps in touch and is always happy to have a chat with us at the competitions. I am so happy that he has ended up in the army, he has every opportunity to go all the way to the top in the capable hands of Captain Geoff Curran and Captain Charlene Kehoe. When he does, we will plan a trip to see him compete at one of the bigger international shows.”

Noel has decided to expand his breeding plan and he has purchased a second mare. Dapple Clover (ISH) by Castlemly Boy (IDC2) out of Uzzi Clover (ISH) by Marcuzzi (HANN). This mare is now also in foal to Sligo Candy Boy (ISH). Noel is excited to see the progeny and hopes for the same success.
Tempo Manor began his national show jumping career with Gabriel Tunney when he competed as a four-year-old in the RDS qualifiers. He then progressed through the Irish Sport Horse studbook series, where he had multiple clear rounds in the five and six-year-old competitions at various legs of this league. Gabriel and Tempo Manor qualified for the RDS in both 2016 and 2017.

Gabriel said:

“He was quite weak as a 4 and 5-year-old but he was always very careful with quick reactions. I really think a lot of this horse, so I took my time producing him. I always felt that this horse had so much more to give. I can see him competing at the top level and I am delighted that he is with Captain Geoff Curran. A rider of this calibre is exactly what this horse needs to take him to 1m50 level.’

Comdt. Sharon Crean and Capt. Charlene Kehoe first set eyes on Tempo Manor at Cavan Indoor Championships in 2018.

Sharon recalls:

‘The horse first caught the eye of myself and Capt. Kehoe at Cavan October Grand Prix Show, during a 1.20m class in which we had been competing. He struck us as a really nice, quality, blood type in the ring. For a 6-year-old, his rideability was remarkable and it was clearly evident that he had been carefully produced by his owner/rider, Gabriel Tunney.”


Tempo Manor (ISH) and Captain Geoff Curran. Picture Laurence Dunne

HHS Clinstown (ISH) – This 2011 gelding is by O.B.O.S Quality 004 (OLD) out of MHS Kilkenny Lady (ISH) by Cavalier Royale (HOLST). This gelding was bred by the late Ita Brennan from Mill House Stud in Gowran, Co. Kilkenny. HHS Clinstown began his national jumping career in Hughes Horse Stud when Marion Hughes rode him in his first RDS qualifier where he qualified to compete in the prestigious RDS 4-year-old class. He changed hands between Marion, Mikey Pender and Jack O ’Donohue for the remainder of 2015 and 2016 while building up successful results for each of the HHS riders in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Series and various national classes.

In 2017 Captain David Power picked up the reins and began competing in the 6-Year-old Irish Sport Horse Studbook series before going to Captain Geoff Curran in June 2017. Geoff continued to produce him through 2017 and 2018, picking up clear rounds and ribbons through the age and national classes. In April 2018 HHS Clinstown made his first appearance on the international stage when he competed in Moorsele CSIYH1* coming second and third, and Vittel CSIYH1* winning this young horse class. In 2019 Clinstown finished his season coming second in Cavan international CSI1* 1m40 class.

Ita Brennan pictured in RDS 2013 moments after MHS Prime Time and Eddie Moloney won the 7 year old class

All these MHS Horses are bred by the late Ita Brennan and her family. Her sons John (Tramore), Tim (Gowran), Tom (Gowran) and Michael (Naas) are all passionate breeders and active figures in Ireland’s equestrian community. Their breeding operation was originally situated in their home farm in Gowran Co. Kilkenny and is now expanded between their private dwellings. Mill House Stud is a mixed farm of cattle, sheep and horses with the main attraction being the calibre of mares and young stock available. This farm is located just minutes from the main Dublin to Waterford route. Both the Brennan’s and the Hughes families began with these famous bloodlines back in the 1930’s when their granduncle Dick Tobin had his prize mare under trap for transport. Little did he know that this mares’ descendants would produce Olympic performers such as Special Envoy (ISH), Diamond Exchange (ISH) and Imperial Cavalier (ISH).

HHS Clinstown comes from this line. MHS Kilkenny Lady (ISH) had four other progeny one of which was sold to Cooley Farm. MHS Cooley Flash (ISH) is a 2010 gelding by Lancelot (KWPN) who is now Eventing in the United Kingdom and competing successfully with English rider Imogen Gloag in CCI1 and 2* competitions.

MHS Kilkenny Lady comes from the famous Kells Line. Which has proven extremely successful for both the Brennan and Hughes family. In 2019, Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH) by Z Wellie 72 (KWPN) out of Cuffesgrange Cavalidam (ISH) by Luidam (KWPN) won the 7-year-old Lanaken Young Horse Championships with 17-year old Seamus Hughes Kennedy on board, while Mikey Pender came second on MHS Cardenta (ISH) by Cardento (HOLST) out of Willow Point (ISH) by Diamond Serpent (ISH). Cuffesgrange Cavalidam (ISH) is a 2005 pony that has been on winning Irish teams and has partnered many international victories with both Seamus Hughes Kennedy and Max Watchman. These successful horses are all descendants from this blood line.

Captain Geoff Curran and HHS Clinstown (ISH) at Flavours of Fingal 2019. Picture Laurence Dunne

Speaking to Ita’s son Tom he explained,

‘This is one of our most valued lines here in Ireland. We as a family have been very fortunate to be intertwined breeding and producing these horses with our cousins the Hughes. Marion, Clare and Seamie and the team in HHS have done a fantastic job producing some of these horses and achieving the results that they are so capable of. There are so many successful horses connected to this line that it is difficult to narrow it down to a few.

“Ballypatrick Mystique was third in 2010 in the 7-year-old world breeding championships. She has now gone on to compete successfully with Giorgia Fallia in Italy. MHS Prime Time (ISH) by Quidam Junior (KWPN) out of Cavalier Kells Lady (ISH) by Cavalier Royale (HOLST) came first in the RDS 7/8-year-old class in 2013 while MHS Going Global coming second. We decided to breed MHS Prime Time and I kept one of her progeny for myself. MHS Jersey Girl (ISH) is by Cardento (HOLST). This mare was mainly produced by my son Jack while studying for his leaving cert, and last year she won the Reaching New Heights premier series in Cork Summer Show, then came second the following week in Maryville. She is now based in Florida with Darragh Kenny and Kevin Mealiff takes up the ride on her this week.

“MHS Central Park (ISH) is also from this line. Last year my son Jack and this gelding won the 1.35m young rider class in the RDS while also having collected numerous placings in 130 and 135 classes nationally. Other current successful horses from this line are HHS Burnchurch (ISH), HHS Fast Forward and MHS Washington who is now competing at 160 Global Champions tours. We are blessed that there are too many to mention and we intend to try keep it that way.’

Tom Brennan with MHS Jersey Girl (ISH) ridden by son Jack Brennan winning the Reaching New Heights Grand Prix at Cork Summer Show

MHS Gabhran (ISH) – is a 9-year-old gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of French Ballerina (ISH) by Diamant De Semilly (SF). He was bred by Ita’s son Michael Brennan. MHS Gabhran started his career in 2015 with Ethan Ahearn before progressing on to be competed by Lizzie Aldridge until the end of 2016. In July 2017 Captain Geoff Curran and MHS Gabhran made their debut at Tattersalls Ward Union show. Geoff continued to produce him through various national and international classes. In 2017 and 2018 this combination had wins in Drammen and Carmona CSIYH1* classes. In 2019 the combination were in the ribbons again in 135m Grand Prix’s in Barnadown and Cavan.

Michael Brennan said:

“Mum started the breeding line with a 1981 mare called Grange Queen (ISH) this mare was by King of Diamonds (ID) out of a thoroughbred mare. Mum always loved an injection of blood into the mares. This mare’s progeny were very nice and proving to be athletic so in 1992 mum took three embryos from this mare all by Cavalier Royale (HOLST) which was proving to be one of the best crosses for this line. Out of these embryos there were 2 gelding and one filly. The geldings went on to compete up to 160 level, but I really liked the filly as a yearling, so mum gifted the yearling to me to start my own breeding line. I called this mare Naomi Cambell (ISH) because she was a good mover and a bit head strong, so I thought the name suited. She had 14 progeny. Most of these offspring were very successful, MHS Walk the Line (ISH) competed successfully in the UK with Anneliese Aitken and Rolo Tomasi (ISH) came 4th in the Hickstead derby in 2013 with David Simpson.

“Bob Dolton (ISH) went on to compete internationally with Cameron Hanley. But I decided to keep a filly out of her. I had been following Diamant de Semilly (SF) and his success in 2002 /2003 so I decided to put her in foal to him in 2003. I had the first covering and foal to him in Ireland. Needless to say, I decided to keep this mare to continue the line. MHS Gabhrans dam, French Ballerina (ISH) was the result of this covering. She has been a fantastic mare for me. My brother Tim and I decided to go into partnership and take embryos from her. One of these embryos is MHS Attraction (ISH) this mare is by Numero Uno (KWPN). She was produced as a 4 and 5-year-old by David Moran from Carlow before being sold to Richard Bournes where Jenny Rankin began to ride her. Both Jenny and Davie had great results through the Irish Sport Horse Studbook series and other national classes before she went abroad to compete with Jenny. Jenny won young horse classes in Oliva and the 5-year-old qualifier in Lanaken. She was then sold and in January 2018 she began to compete with Spanish rider Sergo Alvarez Moya. They are now competing successfully at 160 level and we look forward to following her journey. We have 3 full siblings to MHS Attraction due this year, we had a full brother to MHS Attraction born the other day and we are awaiting two more. We also have a 2-year-old by Luidam (KWPN), a 3-year-old by Vigo D’Arsouilles (BWP), and a 4-year-old by Quidam Junior I (KWPN) out of this dam. The 4-year-old mare is currently being produced by Vincent Byrne in Kilkenny. We look forward to seeing what lies ahead for her.’

The late Ita Brennan pictured in Wellington 2003. Picture Tom Brennan

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Freyne said ‘HHS Clinstown, MHS Gabhran and Tempo Manor are three very exciting young horses. They are great examples of the quality young stock now being bred in Ireland. Clinstown has a super temperament which makes him very ridable. He is developing into a competitive horse and has the potential to win a lot of classes. Gabhran is an athletic horse with lots of scope, he’s very careful and has the potential to jump to the highest level. This season will see him mature a lot and hopefully when we get back jumping, he can continue his progression. Tempo Manor is a very balanced horse, he’s very intelligent and has a lot of natural ability. He is now in his second season in the Equitation School. Ridden now by Capt. Geoff Curran, he is showing the ability to develop into a very competitive International performer. These youngsters have been bred for high performance and thanks to their sound conformation, athleticism and temperament, they are developing into highly competent showjumpers that have the quality required to succeed in the modern sport of show jumping.’

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