The most successful National Hunt operation of recent times, Gigginstown Stud, is to begin completely winding down its operation with immediate effect.
The jumps racehorse ownership juggernaut, overseen by Ryanair supremo Michael O’Leary, announced on Tuesday that as of now they will not replenish any of their stocks at the sales with a view to giving the various trainers of their 200+ horses a chance over the next four or five years to compensate for the loss.
As well as winning Gold Cups with War Of Attrition and Don Cossack, trained by Mouse Morris and Gordon Elliott respectively, Gigginstown Stud have been responsible for 3 of the last four Grand National winners including the brilliant two-time champion Tiger Roll.
However O’Leary’s brother Eddie has stated that as his sibling’s children are growing up and their activities are demanding more attention, there is less time in the schedule for racing although the move could come as a major blow to the racing industry in Ireland.
Trainer Gordon Elliott is particularly dependent on Gigginstown horses and it remains to be seen whether he can successfully replace such a large number of top class jumpers in the long-term.
Naturally as horses come to market other buyers will be on hand to purchase them and the numbers in training may not go down significantly if at all, though whether those horses remain in Ireland or fetch the same sums of money is now very much in doubt leaving the country scratching its head somewhat.
To put into context what O’Leary’s spending power has brought to Gigginstown, the operation raked in €4million in prize money from a huge 922 runners in Ireland alone last season, an amount that saw them claim a fifth successive owner’s championship and a seventh in total.
Add to that their successes at places such as Cheltenham and Aintree and it becomes clear that Ireland’s recent dominance of big races in England could well be coming to an end with their exit from the sport.
Tiger Roll, Samcro, Apple’s Jade and Road To Respect are just some of the top names we’ve seen in recent months representing Gigginstown and while we will be seeing their colours represented for some time yet given the number of horses they still have in training, buyers for other owners are immediately now on red alert.
So often in the past those purchasing on behalf of owners across Ireland and the UK have been simply outgunned by O’Leary and co. and so, despite it not being great news for breeders and those looking to sell, the departure of this ownership heavyweight will open the door to others and should not impact on the quality of horses we will see over the jumps during the coming years.