About the Site

This is the official memorial website for the former Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey, which has been established with the consent of his family. It is a work in progress and is intended to provide factual information on his career in public life and on his considerable contribution and achievements over many decades.

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Equine and equestrian : Compiled by Leo Powell


It was written in the stars that Charles Haughey, whose Gaelic surname Ó hEochaidh translates as 'horseman', should have exerted a huge influence on the equine industry, one of Ireland's great global success stories.

He learned to ride at a school run by the father of one of Ireland's greatest ever showjumpers, Iris Kellett. Miss Kellett was the only daughter of a veterinary surgeon who had left the British Army to help run a well-known drapery in Dublin, the family's business. Her father bought the former British Army cavalry stables in Dublin, turning it into a riding school.

Mr Haughey enjoyed riding to hounds and riding for pleasure, many times being accompanied by his great friend Standish Collen. One of the founders of Ballsbridge Sales (now Tattersalls Ireland), Collen chaired the company for many years, and the successful businessman owned two winners of the Galway Plate. For many years Collen was Chairman of Fairyhouse Racecourse, being involved with the track for over half a century.

Always acknowledging the importance of the horse in Ireland, Charlie Haughey once famously said in a speech about the future for Ireland's rural economy that it relied on the "bullock and the horse".



FAIRYHOUSE held a special place in the heart of Charlie Haughey, and he played a significant role in saving it. It was at the renowned Co Meath racecourse that he enjoyed some of his best moments as a racehorse owner, and few days can have been as good as Easter Monday, April 17th 1995.

At 3.56pm that day the starter let 18 runners go to tackle 23 fences over a gruelling three miles and five furlongs in the Jameson Irish Grand National, one of the most famous races in Ireland. The race carried a first prize of £62,700, making it the richest of that year run under National Hunt rules in the country.

The favourite was the English challenger Mr Boston, followed in the betting by the Tony O'Reilly-owned Belvederian and Sullane River. The Charlie Haughey-owned Flashing Steel was fourth favourite, despite coming into the race just a month after a run in the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup in which he fell at the 13th fence. He carried top-weight of 12 stone and conceded weight to all his 17 opponents, racing on his preferred surface of fast ground with just a little 'give' in it.

In the race the 10-year-old gelding, sporting his owner's distinctive colours of 'black, blue sash and cap', was in contention early and even took the lead briefly at the fifth fence. Two fences later he made a mistake and was only in mid-field when he hit the 12th fence, onlookers fearing his race was well and truly run.

Rust Never Sleeps took the lead with three fences to go, at which point Flashing Steel gamely went in pursuit. The two runners kept the same order until after the final fence, at which point jockey Jamie Osborne used his strength to force Flashing Steel to grab the lead in the shadow of the winning post and gain a popular victory.

Adding to the special moment was the fact that Flashing Steel was trained by Charlie Haughey's son-in-law John Mulhern. Married to Eimear Haughey, John is remembered with an important race run at Gowran Park on Goffs Thyestes Chase day, the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle. The race is named in honour of the horse that John saddled to win the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on two occasions. Immediately after the Grand National the winning trainer, with a flash of his usual wit, paid tribute to the gelding's owner: "The man from north county Dublin has won his race."

Flashing Steel returned to Fairyhouse in December of the same year and won again, but that Easter Monday was to be the highlight of a career that saw him win 14 races on the racecourse and four point-to-points. In a long and distinguished career Flashing Steel earned more than £175,000, a substantial amount in Irish racing during the 1990s. In 1993 he held the distinction of being the last Irish-trained winner overseas that calendar year when he landed a valuable handicap chase at Cheltenham with Richard Dunwoody on board.

It is a tradition that the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland attends the Irish Grand National and presents the winning trophies. In 1995 the Taoiseach was local politician John Bruton, and the leader of Fine Gael was on hand to give the owner's prize to one of his predecessors in the role and a political opponent, the three-time Taoiseach Charles J Haughey.

Flashing Steel's win in the Irish Grand National came 22 years after the eight-year-old Vulgan gelding Vulforo, also owned by Charlie Haughey, landed the seven-runner Powers Gold Cup, again at the Easter meeting at Fairyhouse. Trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by Sean Barker, the gelding was a 10/1 shot on the day and victory netted the then princely sum of £1,653.

Later at Punchestown, Vulforo found the 1973 Irish Grand National winner Tartan Ace too good for him in the John Jameson Gold Cup, but defeat was no disgrace as the winner was the season's best novice. Vulforo won a total of 13 races and he also ran second in the Galway Plate, only finding his stablemate Leap Frog too good on the day. He was bred in the purple, being a son of the Royal Ascot winner Vulgan, while his dam was the Irish Grand National winner Kerforo.

The Irish Grand National victory of Kerforo was historic as it was the first time a trainer had landed a hat-trick of wins in the race. That trainer was Tom Dreaper, responsible for the greatest steeplechaser of all time in Arkle, and he also happened to be the father of Vulforo's young trainer, Jim. Tom Dreaper later trained the winner of the Irish Grand National seven times in a row, from 1960 to 1966.

Charlie Haughey didn't enjoy the same level of success with his runners on the flat, but he did have one significant winner, a horse called Aristocracy. A son of the Irish National Stud stallion Lord Gayle, Aristocracy gained his biggest success at the now defunct Phoenix Park in the Group 3 Whitehall Stakes in 1977. The race subsequently moved to the Curragh and had a number of name changes.

The multiple Irish champion jockey Wally Swinburn was in the saddle at the Phoenix Park on the Richard McCormick-trained three-year-old. Richard was the son of Mr Haughey's first trainer Dick. Aristocracy raced for four seasons and retired to stud as the winner of five flat races and three hurdle races. His other principal win came in the Autumn Handicap at the Curragh when he was trained at Ballydoyle by the greatest trainer of all time, Vincent O'Brien, and he was placed at Down Royal in the Ulster Champion Stakes.

Even though Aristocracy raced more than four decades ago, the farsightedness of Vincent O'Brien is revealed in correspondence from him to Charlie Haughey in October 1978, when he mentioned that he would call the owner to discuss the possibility of sending the colt to California to be sold at auction. The letter arrived a week after a bill for the training of Aristocracy for the month of September.

The charge was £10 a day (30 days for £300), veterinary charges to Demi O'Byrne amounting to some £62; expenses to the Curragh where the colt won the Liam Flood Autumn Handicap ca,e to £69; a 2% cut of the prize fund for Vincent O'Brien was £73, and finally 7% of the purse for Lester Piggott amounted to £257.

Aristocracy enjoyed success as a stallion from limited opportunities. He sired a number of very smart winners under National Hunt rules, but one horse stands out. That was Limestone Lad who won an incredible 35 times, consisting of two bumpers, 29 hurdle races and four chases. Other big race winners he sired were Lord Transcend, Windy Bee, Imperial Vintage and Master Aristocrat VI.



Racing at the now-defunct Phoenix Park racecourse started in 1902 and continued until 1981. Due to its popularity with trainers and the public, it reopened two years later thanks to a consortium that included Vincent O'Brien and Robert Sangster. It closed permanently for racing at the end of the 1990 season.

Among the letters in Charles Haughey's file is one from Vincent O'Brien in the early months of 1990, the year of its final closure. It reveals the thought process that went into the decision to close the Phoenix Park for racing and to apply for planning permission. The figures mentioned are enormous, remembering that this was some 30 years ago.

Vincent O'Brien wrote: "First of all I want to express my appreciation for all that you [Charles Haughey] have done in the past for the racing and breeding industry in Ireland and also for the injection of badly needed funds from this year's budget.

"In view of your personal interest I felt I should keep you abreast of the situation regarding the planning application for the Phoenix Park which is due for hearing on 11th April next.

"If I could cast your mind back eight or nine years when we were chatting together in the parade ring at the Phoenix Park one afternoon, I said to you that the Park would close if we didn't find some people to take it over and you agreed that something would have to be done about it.

"I set to work and got Stavros Niarchos, Danny Schwartz, Robert Sangster and John Magnier to come in with me and as a result the Park was saved as a racecourse and we have persevered with it ever since. However, the losses have been mounting and Stavros Niarchos and Danny Schwartz have walked away and forced the three of us to increase our capital involvement to keep it open. Robert has stayed with us to date but being a non-national he could conceivably leave as the other two did.

"At this moment the Park has cost us a total of IR£7.7 million and we are faced with an interest loss of over IR£1 million per year.

"You will understand that it is impossible for us to continue financing this debt as there is no income return whatsoever and no possibility of any forthcoming in the future.

"Nobody can say we haven't done our utmost but the past trading situation and future lack of potential is such that closure and seeking planning permission is the only course available to us.

"We would be quite prepared to work with the planner in any way whatsoever to achieve any alternative utilization of the site which would be agreeable to all sides and of benefit to the people of Dublin."



Racing at Fairyhouse first took place in 1848 when the Ward Union hunt held their point-to-point at the venue. The highlight of the racing year there, just beside Ratoath in Co Meath, is the Easter Festival and the feature of the three-day meeting is the Irish Grand National, a race won by Charlie Haughey's Flashing Steel in 1995.

The race was first run in 1870 and the winner was a horse called Sir Robert Peel. Due to its proximity to Dublin, the venue has always attracted large attendances from the capital city, Dublin. It is said that many British officers were present at the races in Fairyhouse when the 1916 Rising commenced. Transport was curtailed due to the outbreak of hostilities and most of those in attendance at the races had to walk back to the city.

Many years later and Fairyhouse faced a number of difficulties, with talk of its potential closure becoming a reality at one time.

As Taoiseach in 1988, Charles Haughey's Government made an allocation of £500,000 to the Irish Racing Board to help improve racecourse facilities. In a debate in the Dáil that December Austin Deasy complimented the Minister for Finance Albert Reynolds, saying: "I should like to congratulate the Minister on providing £500,000 for the refurbishment of race courses, in particular Fairyhouse. In my view Fairyhouse is as good a National Hunt course as there is in England or Ireland and it needs that type of investment badly. The track is perfect but the facilities are pretty dreadful. That money is badly needed and it will be well spent."



Ireland has a well-deserved reputation as a leader in the global business of thoroughbred breeding and racing. That good name has grown exponentially in the last half a century or so, and Charlie Haughey's foresight had a large part to play in that growth. In 1968, as Minister for Finance, he introduced a tax exemption for stallion fees in the Finance Act, gaining cross party support for the bill. This action had the effect of making Ireland the place to stand some of the best racehorses in the world, and for some four decades Ireland became the destination of choice for stallion owners.

The year 1968 saw Sir Ivor claim the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby, though defeat in the Irish Derby scuppered plans for an attempt at the Triple Crown when doubts were raised about his stamina. Running for the US Ambassador to Ireland, Raymond Guest, Sir Ivor won the National Stakes and the Grand Criterium at two, and he rounded off his second racing season with victories in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket and the Washington International. In huge demand for stud duties in the USA, the son of Sir Gaylord did complete his first season as a stallion at Ballygoran Stud in Maynooth, Co Kildare. Guest stood him in Ireland as a gesture to the Irish nation before he transferred to the USA. Was the timing coincidental, happening at the time of the introduction of the tax exemption?

The spin off was that the world's most influential breeders bought substantial stud farms in Ireland, the best broodmares in the world were sent to Ireland to be covered, and many of the best racehorses in the world carry the IRE suffix in their name. The tax exemption contributed to a burgeoning stallion business in Ireland, with John Magnier's Coolmore Stud becoming a world leader, and Sheikh Mohammed choosing Ireland as home to many of his best sires at Kildangan Stud. The decision to introduce the stallion fee exemption was made following strong lobbying by Captain Tim Rogers, owner at the time of Ireland's pre-eminent stallion farm, Airlie Stud.

In an article in The Irish Field, published in February 2019, Daragh Ó Conchúir interviewed Joe Foley, owner of Ballyhane Stud and a leading stallion master in Ireland. This is an extract.

He [Foley] acknowledges Government support for racing but the abolition of the tax exemption for stallion operators in 2008, when he was ITBA chairman, is still raw. It has not produced the revenue the politicians expected and he argues that it has contributed to Ireland no longer being the premier stallion base.

"It would be nice if people like Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, who attended the ITBA Awards, and Minister Creed just took a look at our industry. Maybe it does need some help. We are big rural players. The broodmare band needs to be upped in Ireland. The breeders are just breeding off the same old mares, the mares are getting older. They are not getting the finances to allow them to reinvest in a new mare. It goes back to the market being weak. If there was some stimulant there that would allow them, be it a capital stock relief or something. People in America get tax relief for buying yearlings."

The seismic effect of the tax exemption legislation can never be underestimated. Coolmore Stud supremo John Magnier is under no illusion as to its positive influence. "One can't escape the farsighted vision of introducing the stallion tax exemption and the impact on Ireland, and how it helped to attract investment which led to the establishment of a world leading industry here where only a cottage industry existed before."



Never afraid to make what might appear to be an unpopular decision if he believed he was doing the right thing, Charlie Haughey ran the risk of incurring the wrath of the bookmaking fraternity when he raised on-course betting tax from 2.5% to 7.5% by extending Turnover Tax to cover the activity. This was in 1970.

An on-course betting levy had been introduced as part of the new Racing Board legislation and for many years it was 5%. It dipped to half that amount before Charlie Haughey trebled it. As it turned out, the bookmakers appreciated the need for the levy to fund racing, and thus it was doing something that was ultimately in their best interests. As a group bookmakers were also given a seat on the Racing Board.



In 1987 Charlie Haughey, following his return to office as Taoiseach, appointed Coolmore owner John Magnier to the Senate, Seanad Éireann, the upper house in Ireland's parliamentary system. Magnier remained a member for a period of almost three years, though he judiciously spoke on just a handful of occasions in the chamber.

He did contribute to debates on the Companies (No 2) Bill 1987 where he spoke of unscrupulous business operators, calling for a ban on rogue traders being able to later become a company director. The following year he called for a cut in the off-course betting duty to make Irish racing more attractive to overseas punters.

Then in 1989, he suggested that the Presidential Mounted Escort, founded in 1931 but since disbanded, be re-established under the auspices of the Equitation School. Sadly this did not happen.

The 2001 racing season saw a son of Sadler's Wells, Galileo, win the Derby at Epsom and he followed up with victory in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh. These triumphs prompted Charlie Haughey to pen a private letter of congratulations to John and Sue Magnier at Coolmore. "What a champion!" he enthused, adding that "historic victories of this sort don't just happen. They are the outcome of years of dedication, judgement and foresight, constant attention to detail and an unfailing commitment to perfection, in short, the Coolmore philosophy."

Replying, the Magniers acknowledged that the kind words meant a great deal to them. They wrote: "Thank you very much for your kind message of congratulation. We all feel so fortunate and lucky to be associated with Galileo. It has been a wonderful team effort on the part of everyone at Ballydoyle and Coolmore and we are thrilled for everybody involved.

"We are delighted by the huge level of enjoyment and enthusiasm that his victories have generated and hope that he will go on to provide more memorable moments for those who love the sport. In all, it has been a couple of weeks that we will never forget."

Today, Galileo is the most influential stallion in the world.



One of the best flat racehorses bred by Charlie Haughey was Ghazwan, a son of the 1973 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Rheingold. Runner-up at two in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, Rheingold was champion at three in France when he won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, finishing second in the Derby at Epsom to Roberto. At four he was champion older horse in France and in addition to his Arc success he also captured the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud for a second time.

Rheingold stood initially at Coolmore Stud and his Group 1 stars were the dual Ascot Gold Cup winner Gildoran, Bater in Italy, Rheinsteel and Rivellino. Ghazwan was one of four Group/Grade 2 winners he sired. Raced in France at two when he failed to win but was in the frame in the Group 3 Prix Saint-Roman at Longchamp, he was sent to the USA and there he blossomed.

By the time Ghazwan retired to stud duties he had won eight times, highlighted by victories in the Grade 2 W L McKnight Handicap at Calder, the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Lamplighter Handicap at Monmouth Park. He was runner-up in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap at Belmont. At stud he sired a Group 1 winner in South America.

Ghazwan was the best of the five winners bred by Rebel Gold, a mare whose sire Aureole raced with great distinction for Queen Elizabeth II. Through her daughters and descendants Rebel Gold became an influential figure in the southern hemisphere where she appears in the pedigrees of such luminaries as champion Australian three-year-old filly Tristanagh (winner of the 1000 Guineas and Victoria Oaks), Able Attempt (won the Sha Tin Vase in Hong Kong), Dupain (won the Group 1 Brisbane Cup), and Pure Harmony (winner of the Moonee Valley Oaks).

In the 1960s Charlie Haughey owned The Rath Stud in Co Meath, but he sold that and moved to live and operate a stud farm at Abbeville, Kinsealy, Co Dublin in 1969. A connection with horses was something with which Abbeville was familiar.

A previous owner of the 18th century house was A Percy Reynolds, who used the name Mr J Dillon for racing purposes. Using that pseudonym he won the 1941 Irish Derby with a colt called Sol Oriens. Two years later, Dick McCormick returned from England to become stud manager and private trainer to Reynolds at Clonbarron in Co Meath. McCormick was Charlie Haughey's first trainer and he died in 1963. His son Richard trained Aristocracy and Innocence for Charlie Haughey.

Mr Haughey enjoyed early success as an owner, notably with two fillies who would go on to become foundation mares at his stud.

Miss Cossie, a daughter of Le Lavandou and a half-sister to the dam of leading US runners Charger's Kin (Hollywood Juvenile Championship), Fleet Allied (Del Mar Futurity and sire) and Royal Eiffel (La Jolla Mile), won six times, firstly for Major Laurie Gardner (a brother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten) and then in the Haughey silks. She was runner-up in the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh, beaten by Red Slipper who was later to annex the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. This happened soon after Dick McCormick's death and the Turf Club at the time granted a temporary licence to his then 16-year-old son Richard.

At stud Miss Cossie bred five winners, the best of which was the Larkspur colt Sir Lark. He won the prestigious Acomb Stakes at York as a two-year-old and was runner-up in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Miss Cossie also earned blacktype when third in the Howth Handicap at Baldoyle, a racecourse that closed in 1972. Charlie Haughey won that same race with The Chaser, a mare by Fighting Don who was a noted sire of sprinters. The Chaser was born a year after Miss Cossie. However she was far from precocious and did all her winning at the ages of five and six, entering the winners' enclosure eight times in all. She also produced five winning offspring, the best being a colt named Sinn-Fein who won five races and was placed as a two-year-old in the Marble Hill Stakes.

It was not only in the flat sphere that Charlie Haughey was successful on the breeding front. In the early eighties one of the best young horses racing was Gallaher, a son of Raise You Ten. Placed in the Sun Alliance Hurdle at Cheltenham, he was a better chaser and won the Golden Eagle Novices' Chase at Cheltenham and the Peter Ross Novices' Chase at Ascot, while also being placed at the famous Cheltenham Festival in both the Sun Alliance Novices' Chase and the Christies Foxhunter Chase. He was the best National Hunt performer bred by Mr Haughey.

Abbeville was home to Mr Haughey until his death in 2006. He continued to take a keen interest in breeding throughout his later years, principally through broodmares he had in partnership with his daughter Eimear at Abbeville and Meadow Court Studs.



She was the one that got away. Bred by the executors of the late Winston Churchill, the Sea Hawk II filly, later to be named Innocence, was purchased as a yearling for 2,200gns at the Goffs September Yearling Sale in 1969 by Richard McCormick. The now qualified veterinary surgeon had returned from a stint in America and decided to apply for a trainer's licence.

With no owners, one of his first ports of call was to the offices of the Minister for Finance Charles J Haughey. Having made a successful pitch, he left with his first owner and an order for a horse secured. Mr Haughey gave him a budget of £3,000 to spend on a yearling, but McCormick managed to spend somewhat less than that.

Innocence was offered in the draft from Airlie Stud, which was owned by Churchill's aide-de-camp Captain Tim Rogers. She won twice at three years, at Mallow (giving McCormick his first winner with a full licence) and Gowran Park. Innocence was one of four winners from her dam who hailed from an influential female line. However, at stud Innocence only produced one living foal, a filly in 1973 by the sprinter Balidar. The second foal she was carrying, a colt by King Emperor, died along with the mare herself as she was being driven to the Irish National Stud to give birth. The trailer carrying Innocence overturned following a road traffic accident.

The Balidar filly was sold as a yearling to Richard McCormick and was named Balidaress. She was a useful racemare and won three times for Bill Brannigan, to whom McCormick sold her while she was in training. Balidaress was placed on a number of occasions and she was even raced over hurdles and placed. At stud she became a sensation, producing eight winners, three Group 1 winners, and she is ancestress to many more.

Her trio of Group 1 winning daughters is made up of Park Appeal (champion two-year-old filly in Ireland and England, winning the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Cheveley Park Stakes), Alydaress (champion three-year-old filly in Ireland and winner of the Irish Oaks), and Desirable (another winner of the Cheveley Park Stakes).

The influence of Balidaress on the thoroughbred breed can be summed up by a simple listing of some of the influential runners that descend from her. In alphabetical order they include:

Cape Cross, winner of the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes and sire of many outstanding runners including Sea The Stars and Ouija Board

Diktat, champion sprinter, winner of the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup and a successful sire

Hot Snitzel, won Group 1 BTC Cup in Australia

Iffraaj, won Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest and sire of nine Group 1 winners to the end of 2018

Que Fenomeno, a Group 1 winner in Brazil

Russian Rhythm, won Group 1 Coronation Stakes, Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, Group 1 Nassau Stakes and Group 1 1000 Guineas

Shadayid, champion filly at two in Europe, won Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac and Group 1 1000 Guineas

Takaful, winner of the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes in 2017



In a wide-ranging debate in Dáil Éireann in 1976, Charlie Haughey spoke about the bloodstock industry in Ireland, and the Irish National Stud, and showed his passion for the industry. The following are some extracts from his contributions, many of which reveal great foresight.

"The introduction of this legislation presents us with the opportunity of looking at one of our very important national institutions and examining its performance, considering its policies and looking at the contribution it is making to agriculture in the first instance and to the economy in general.

"I suppose it is not necessary to emphasise the fundamental national importance of our bloodstock breeding industry. The Minister very succinctly mentioned that importance but I think it is important that I and my colleagues should take the opportunity to re-emphasise to all concerned the fundamentally important place our bloodstock breeding industry occupies in the economy. It is a very important industry from the point of view of the contribution it makes in a material sense to our agricultural output, in the contribution it makes to employment.

"Bloodstock breeding provides first-class employment in many areas where it would be impossible to provide employment of a similar calibre in any other way. A well-managed and well-run stud farm is the equivalent of a reasonably-sized factory as regards employment but the contribution bloodstock breeding makes does not stop there. It enhances our countryside in many ways; it can, and should be a very valuable element in our tourist industry. It can make a very important contribution to the general status of the country internationally; it can make a valuable contribution to our balance of payments and it is a necessary basis for our racing industry, which is also a great employer, and in addition, it is a very considerable tourist attraction. It would be impossible to over-emphasise its importance in our national affairs."


"I want to reiterate my belief in the important role that the National Stud can play in our bloodstock breeding industry, in our racing industry, and indeed in the entire field of the Irish horse.

"I am going to be egotistical enough to quote something I said when I was establishing the survey team on the horse-breeding industry when I was Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. I said to the team at the first meeting: 'I believe we should concentrate on what we are good at, and nobody has ever questioned our ability to breed and raise good horses of every kind'.

"Even though I said that myself, I think it is a very sound statement. In this country we have to undertake many forms of economic activity, some of which we are at a considerable and natural disadvantage in undertaking, but this is something that does not apply in the horse industry. We should aim to make Ireland the premier bloodstock-breeding country in the world. That should be our target in so far as bloodstock breeding is concerned. We have everything that is necessary to achieve that target. We have all the necessary ingredients, all the natural advantages, the climate, the soil, the tradition, the accumulated knowledge, the experience, the basic structure, and the people. We have everything available to us that can ensure that we do become the bloodstock centre of the world. That is what I want to see established as firm Government policy.

"That brings me, then, to the role that the National Stud might play in that situation. It seems to me that in developing our bloodstock breeding industry and our horse industry in general there are three separate aspects to be considered. First of all there is the question of producing the animals, the horses, the yearlings. Then there is the question of selling them at the best possible advantage, and there is the whole area of racing, because the racing industry in this country is an integral, necessary part of our bloodstock breeding industry. It is essential on the one hand that we breed the horses to race and secondly that we have a completely adequate racing structure to provide the necessary outlet for the horses that we breed. So I would look at our bloodstock breeding industry under those three separate headings: production, selling and racing.

"In so far as the National Stud is concerned it is on the production side that it has the most important part to play, but I want to emphasise that in my view it can have and should have an important part to play in the other two areas as well.

"For the moment let us look at the position of the National Stud in so far as the production of our bloodstock is concerned. Away back at the very beginning I think the right decision, the fundamental, basic, correct decision in regard to the National Stud was taken: that the National Stud should be there primarily to help the small breeder. It is important here to recognise that the bloodstock breeding industry is a very varied type of industry. If it is to be the sort of industry we want it to be, it will necessarily include large-scale, heavily-capitalised stud farms. It will and must also include the small farmer-breeder, and indeed various different-sized establishments in between these two extremes.

"From every point of view—the economic point of view, the natural point of view, the tourist point of view—that sort of structure in bloodstock breeding itself is essential, and the National Stud has a particularly important role to play where the small farmer-breeder is concerned. I think everybody acknowledges that down the years, since it was taken over by an Irish Government, the National Stud has made a very important contribution in that regard. It has set itself a policy of making stallions available to the smaller farmer-breeder on the best possible commercial terms. I think we would all agree that there would be no dispute in the House about the desirability of the National Stud continuing to fulfil that role, continuing to be the friend of the small farmer-breeder, continuing to provide him with access to the sort of stallions he needs at reasonable prices and on favourable conditions."


"There are two different approaches to the finances of the National Stud. One school of thought suggests that the National Stud should become commercial in its activities and should seek to build up its own resources and its own funds and to have these at its disposal for the purchase of suitable stallions when they come on the market. Another school of thought says that the primary purpose of the National Stud is to provide services for the small breeder at very reasonable costs. In other words, the company should not be too commercially oriented in its outlook. The way in which both schools of thought could be reconciled would be if the Minister were to provide, in the form of capital and borrowing powers, all the resources the company might need to enable them to buy one or more prestige stallions. They could do that out of capital and at the same time maintain the service at a reasonable level for the smaller breeders."


"The National Stud should have a prestige stallion, and I would hope that very soon they will get round to having a really top-class, international, prestige, classic-type stallion. The amount of money involved these days in the purchase of such a sire is enormous. It can be £1 million or even £2 million. Providing that sort of money through share capital might not be the best way from his point of view. It might be better if he made that money available or if the directors of the National Stud could get that money through borrowing. If they are doing their business properly, they can finance the purchase of a top-class international sire on a four-year repayment basis. The modern practice is that a stallion of that quality repays his purchase price inside four years. I might as well admit here that the reason for that very often is that it is four years before anybody knows whether that stallion is going to be a success or not, and the approach of the modern studs is to have the stallion liquidate his purchase price over a four-year period."



Kildangan Stud in Co Kildare is the flagship farm in a large portfolio owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. Covering a large expanse of land, it was home for many years to Roderic More O'Ferrall. He returned to Ireland in 1926, establishing Kildangan Stud on the family estate before taking out a trainer's licence in 1927. In 20 years as a trainer he won five Irish classics. However, his main interest was in the breeding of horses and those bred by him at Kildangan won 11 classic races.

For most of his time in Kildangan he was in partnership with Sir Percy Loraine, a British career diplomat who was a keen owner and breeder. The latter died in 1960. Their partnership contributed to Kildangan Stud becoming one of the most successful breeding establishments in Europe. More O'Ferrall subsequently embarked on another successful partnership with Benjamin Guinness, 3rd Earl of Iveagh.

In 1986 More O'Ferrall sold Kildangan Stud to Sheikh Mohammad, retaining the right to reside in the house for his lifetime. An internationally renowned arboriculturist, More O'Ferrall tended lovingly to Kildangan which had become home to an extensive collection of rare and exotic shrubs and trees, regarded by many as the finest in Europe. More O'Ferrall died in October 1990 and he is buried in Kildangan.

In November 1970, the 76-year-old More O'Ferrall wrote to the then Taoiseach Jack Lynch, saying that he would like Kildangan to be incorporated into the Irish National Stud, situated not far away at Tully, Kildare. Describing the estate as an "attractive and very well maintained stud farm", he asked that the contents of the letter not be made widely known "for a long time to come".

Lynch was soon replaced by Charlie Haughey as Taoiseach and in an early piece of communication, dated January 1980, the new office holder wrote to Roderic More O'Ferrall to express his pleasure on learning of the "generous decision" and adding that he and his wife Maureen would visit soon.

Mr Haughey did not enjoy the support of his Minister for Finance Michael O'Kennedy for the proposal. O'Kennedy wrote that the acquisition would lead to "heavier exchequer liabilities" and that it brought with it "no obvious benefit to the horse breeding industry".

In June 1982 Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Agriculture, wrote to Mr Haughey and informed him that officials in his department had visited Kildangan and found there to be some legal issues with title to the property. Mr Haughey agreed with Mr Lenihan's suggestion that More O'Ferrall be asked to appoint a solicitor to interact with the Office of Public Works and resolve the issues.

Nothing happened. Mr Haughey's suggestion did not reach the officials in the OPW. According to a note on file, dated a year after Lenihan and Mr Haughey discussed the matter, it says: "for reasons which it has not been possible to unravel, this [Mr Haughey's] reply did not percolate to official level". The note went on to suggest that the OPW "establish that the offer by Mr More O'Ferrall still stands".

No further records exist of any interaction on the matter and Kildangan was sold to Sheikh Mohammed three years later.



The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association is the representative body for the industry at government level, nationally and internationally. It is an all-Ireland body and represents the country on the International Thorough Breeders' Federation, attended bi-annually by 19 countries, and the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders' Association. The Association also represents breeders on the boards of all the major industry bodies.

Each year the Association inducts a newcomer to its Hall of Fame, the most prestigious honour it can bestow. In 2019 the 23rd inductees were announced, but it was Charlie Haughey was the very first recipient of the honour. When you look at the list of inductees, and realise their lifetime contribution to the industry, it is easy to understand why the honour is so respected.

A year after Mr Haughey became the first name on the roll of honour, the Aga Khan, one of the world's most successful owner-breeders joined him. Since then every member on this roll of honour has represented all that is best about Ireland and the thoroughbred industry. The full list now reads:

Charles J Haughey

HH Aga Khan

Mr and Mrs Walter Haefner, Moyglare Stud

John Magnier, Coolmore Stud

Mrs Sonia Rogers, Airlie Stud

Alan Lillingston, Mount Coote Stud

Stan Cosgrove MRCVS

David Pim, Anngrove Stud

Michael Osborne MRCVS

Liam Cashman, Rathbarry Stud

Tim Hyde, Camas Park Stud

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Kildangan Stud

Sadler's Wells

Sir Edmund Loder Bt, Eyrefield Lodge Stud

Denis Brosnan, Croom House Stud

Lady O'Reilly

Jim Bolger

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Derrinstown Stud


Aidan and Annemarie O'Brien

John O'Connor MRCVS, Ballylinch Stud

David and Diane Nagle, Barronstown Stud



A seminal piece of work for the Irish thoroughbred racing and breeding sectors was The Commission of Inquiry into the Thoroughbred Horse Breeding Industry, more commonly referred to as The Killanin Report.

It was published in July, 1986, almost four years after it was commissioned by the Minister for Agriculture Brian Lenihan during Charles Haughey's term of office as Taoiseach. The report was presented to Mr Lenihan's successor Austin Deasy and brought to the Oireachtas by Minister Michael O'Kennedy.

The Commission was chaired by Lord Killanin who in 1950 was appointed president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, a position he held until 1973. He was elected a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1952, becoming president in 1972, a position he retained until his retirement in 1980.

The Commission members were Robert Barry, Jim Bolger, John Byrne, Standish Collen, Sean Collins, Oliver Freaney, Kevin Frost, Jonathan Irwin, Barton Kilcoyne, Denis McCarthy, Professor Michael MacCormac, John Magnier, Paddy O'Keeffe (resigned in June, 1984), Captain Tim Rogers (died January, 1984) and Patrick Walsh.

The Commission and its three-sub-committees held 154 meetings, and the 200-page report contained 123 recommendations. The main recommendation of the Commission was the establishment of a Thoroughbred Industry Board to replace the Racing Board. The new Board, it was suggested, would have responsibility for all areas of racing except those relating to the making and administering of the rules of racing.

This far-sighted recommendation predates the establishment of Horse Racing Ireland's forerunner, the Irish Horseracing Authority, by a decade.

Senator John Magnier moved the motion in July 1988 that Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate) take note of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Thoroughbred Horse Breeding Industry (The Killanin Report). Speaking in the Senate, Minister O'Kennedy paid tribute to the Commission and complimented them on their work, and the following are extracts from his speech.

He said: "I am sure I echo the sentiments of Senators here when I express our appreciation to Lord Killanin for this very thorough report.

"The terms of reference given to the Commission were to examine all aspects of the thoroughbred horse breeding industry, including horse racing, and to make recommendations on its future development. In doing so the Government considered at the time that in view of the important role which the horse plays in the economic and social life of the nation there was a need to examine the state of the thoroughbred breeding and racing industries, to identify the contribution to the various sectors in it to the economy, to analyse the financial structure and to present guidelines as to future policy.

"Ireland has a long tradition of breeding racehorses and indeed the thoroughbred horse is perceived abroad as an element in the country's identity. The breeding industry has prospered in recent times with output and employment rising. The more traditional element in the breeding industry is long established as a part of Irish farming where, typically, the farmer keeps one or two mares producing foals for flat or National Hunt racing. Over the years breeding has developed successfully and now also consists of stud farms with a large number of mares and stallions of all classes in addition to smaller breeders.

"In terms of climate, availability of labour and management skills, Ireland possesses natural advantages as a centre for thoroughbred breeding. There are a number of others areas in the world which enjoy some advantages and, as a consequence, there is strong international competition for business in thoroughbred breeding. Nevertheless our advantages and achievements in breeding, training and racing are such that we can face the future in this industry with confidence. While many individuals have succeeded and put the name of Ireland prominently on the map I feel the extraordinary achievements in the National Hunt and flat of Mr. Vincent O'Brien as a trainer are worthy of special mention. Ireland will always have a prominent place in the thoroughbred industry when individuals of Vincent O'Brien's calibre are involved.

"The report contains 123 recommendations of which 32, if implemented, would require amending legislation. Responsibility for action on many of the recommendations currently lies with a number of bodies such as the Racing Board and the governing bodies of Irish racing. The main recommendation of the report is the setting up of a Thoroughbred Industry Board to replace the Racing Board. It would: (a) have responsibility for planning, financing and developing racing and the development of an ongoing strategy for breeding; (b) have power to establish subsidiaries and be given responsibility for the National Stud, the totalisator, a new racecourse management company, The Irish Equine Centre, the Racing Apprenticeship Centre of Education, RACE; and (c) be financed by on and off-course betting.

"The report of the Killanin Commission has focused our minds on the issues currently demanding attention. There are some recommendations which require Government decisions and subsequent legislation. The Government will, in the very near future, be considering many of the report's recommendations — at least those that are relevant to us in Government. While I cannot pre-empt Government decisions, I can assure the House that, where legislation for the implementation of any of the recommendations is required, it will be implemented as quickly as possible."



Bord na gCapall (The Irish Horse Board) was established by way of the Horse Industry Bill, 1970, at a time when the industry was in great difficulty. The genesis of the legislation arose from a special committee set up by the then Minister for Agriculture and Food in 1966, Charles Haughey, to look into the sector and identify its needs.

Speaking in Seanad Éireann in 1989 at the second stage of the Bord na gCapall (Dissolution) Bill, 1988, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Joe Walsh spoke as follows about the impact of Bord na gCapall:

"In 1966 a survey team established by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries [Charles Haughey] recommended the establishment of an Irish Horse Board to co-ordinate the activities of the various associations dealing with equestrian matters and to set up a national training centre for riders and instructors. As a result Bord na gCapall was established under the Horse Industry Act, 1970, in order to promote and develop the non-thoroughbred horse industry and to advise the Minister on matters relating to breeding, sale and export of horses.

"One of the Bord's earliest achievements was the setting up of a farriery apprenticeship scheme under which over 70 young people became qualified farriers. The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association and other interests have now organised a new farriery apprenticeship scheme. This is a welcome development which, I hope, can be further developed to meet the demands of both the thoroughbred and non-thoroughbred horse industries. Under the Bord's tutelage a number of people were prepared for and passed their equestrian science examination. This function has now been taken over by Teagasc.

"The Bord's most important and significant achievement was the foundation of the Irish Horse Register in 1974. This incorporated the approval of stallions for breeding and was essential for maintaining the high standard of the Irish sport horse. During the Bord's existence the number of sport horses increased by 50% - from 21,000 to 34,000 - and the value of exports reached £3 million."



John Magnier, Coolmore Stud

"We would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of Charles Haughey on their sad loss. It is widely recognised that the transformation of Irish bloodstock breeding from a cottage industry in 1969 to a world-class one today can be largely attributed to his far-sightedness and strategic thinking.

"The introduction of a tax exemption on stallion fees enabled Ireland to build on its natural attributes and to stand the best stallions rather than exporting them, benefiting the rural economy and associated businesses.

"Through its introduction, Charles Haughey created something out of nothing, and at no cost. His legacy to Ireland will be fully appreciated by future generations and history will be kind to the man."


Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive, Horse Racing Ireland

"Throughout his career Charlie Haughey could only be described as a true friend of Irish racing. His innovative approach to the breeding industry through the introduction of progressive tax policies has stood the test of time and has been the cornerstone of the recent worldwide success of Irish racing and breeding.

"Mr Haughey had a deep love and understanding of the industry and enjoyed considerable success as both an owner and breeder, most notably through Flashing Steel (Irish Grand National 1995), Vulforo (Powers Gold Cup 1973) and Aristocracy (Phoenix Park International Stakes 1977).

"Deepest sympathies are extended to the entire Haughey family, including of course Eimear Mulhern, Chairman of Goffs Bloodstock Sales."


Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association

"The Council and staff of the ITBA were deeply saddened to hear of the death of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey. Mr Haughey was a keen horseman, owner and breeder who had a great understanding and appreciation for our industry and the people who work in it.

"His innovative thinking in relation to the introduction of the Stallion Tax Exemption was instrumental in placing Ireland at the forefront of international racing and breeding today. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this sad time, particularly his daughter Eimear who has been so involved with our Association."


Leo Powell, Managing Editor, The Irish Field

"Former Taoiseach Charles J Haughey was laid to rest in Dublin yesterday following a state funeral. Aged 80 years, he had been ill for some time and died at his home in Kinsealy on Tuesday morning.

"Mr Haughey was a keen horseman, riding to hounds with a certain style and panache. He also established a successful stud farm, enjoyed memorable moments as an owner and was, through his association with Captain Tim Rogers, the architect of Ireland's emergence as a thoroughbred superpower.

"On the greater political front, Charles Haughey was one of the most influential figures in the history of the Irish state. His far-sightedness marked him out during his terms in office and many policies implemented by him had far-reaching effects. One only has to point to the financial services centre, the redevelopment of the city centre in the capital, and the flourishing of the arts sector as some of the embodiments of his vision.

"The thoroughbred industry has good reason to remember Charles Haughey well and with appreciation. His introduction of the stallion tax exemption in 1968 laid the foundation for what has become one of the world's greatest bloodstock centres. It must have been with some sadness that Mr Haughey saw, in recent times, the intervention by Europe change a regime that was the envy of the other major thoroughbred producing countries.

"Hopefully the introduction of an effective replacement for this visionary concept will be a fitting testimonial in due course.

"In recognition of his role in the development of a strong breeding sector, the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association bestowed the Roll of Honour on Charles Haughey a decade ago. The industry, in a small but symbolically significant way, was saying thanks.

"The legacy of Charles Haughey will live on and, most fittingly, his influence is not dead. His daughter Eimear has shown in the past, and no doubt will do again in the future, that she inherits the political savvy of her father. A passionate advocate for this industry, she is politics' loss and our gain.

"To Eimear, her mother Maureen, brothers and family, our deepest sympathies at this sad time."


Leo Powell