His Highness The Aga Khan and Dungarvan’s Niall Flynn were yesterday announced as the latest recipients of Connolly’s Red Mills/The Irish Field Breeder of the Year awards. Presentations were made to Pat Downes at Gilltown Stud on behalf of the Aga Khan, while Niall was given his salver at his Five Naughts Stud.

They join a stellar list of previous recipients, and the awards not only celebrate their achievements during 2020-21, but over many years. Joe Connolly and The Irish Field editor Leo Powell presented the trophies at the farms.

“These awards are quite special, and have been since day one,” Joe Connolly said. “The nature of the competition is that the public vote for the monthly winners, and then the overall winners are chosen by a panel of industry peers. I believe that this makes them very special indeed. The stature of both of the latest award winners says a lot about the quality of breeders who operate in this country. They are a credit to Ireland.

“Not only do I congratulate His Highness The Aga Khan for the flat award, and Niall Flynn for the National Hunt equivalent, but I would widen my best wishes to all of the monthly winners and to the other monthly nominees for the awards. They have all achieved great success and continue to shine a light on how important – and successful – the Irish bloodstock sector is. Well done to all.”

Leo Powell echoed Joe Connolly’s sentiments. He said: “The Breeding Insights pages of The Irish Field has in the past year doubled in size to four pages, and many weeks even this is not sufficient to pay full tribute to the achievements of horses bred in Ireland who go on to success globally. It is an industry that the participants can be extremely proud of, and one that the country can also hold in high esteem.

“This year we have two exceptional winners. The success which His Highness The Aga Khan, and his family, has enjoyed for many, many years is without parallel for one person. As an owner-breeder he has no equal, and his farms in Ireland have been a nursery for champions that are too numerous to mention. His enthusiasm for breeding and racing has never dimmed, and I offer him, Princess Zahra, Pat Downes and their loyal teams my heartiest congratulations.


Niall Flynn’s Five Naughts Stud has also become a byword for success and nothing demonstrates his and his wider family’s love for what they do than the achievements of the wonderful Colreevy in recent seasons. To see her win at Cheltenham in March, and to crown her career with a Grade 1 win at Punchestown, was something else. I know how much the mare means to Niall and his family, and I want him to know that she was special for all of us too.

iall and Claire Flynn Colreevy


His Highness The Aga Khan won his monthly award following Tarnawa’s great win at the 2020 Breeders’ Cup, taking her tally of top-level successes to three. She is yet another shining example of the quality of horses that are synonymous with the Aga Khan Studs, a list that contains so many household names.

Pat Downes Giltown Stud

The Curragh

It should also be remembered that the sphere of influence of His Highness stretches beyond just owning and breeding, and he is the catalyst for many other things, notably the redevelopment of the Curragh Racecourse in Ireland.

Niall Flynn’s monthly award was given thanks to the successes of both Colreevy and Next Generation.

His family involvement goes back generations too and, with the nine-time winner, three times at Grade 1, Colreevy now at stud, hopefully Niall will continue to enjoy top-level success for generations to come.

Connolly’s RED MILLS & The Irish Field Breeder Of The Year Award Winners

2005-2006 David & Diane Nagle

2006-2007 Jim Bolger

2007-2008 Seamus Burns

2008-2009 Ling Tsui

2009-2010 Ballymacoll Stud

2010-2011 Jack Ronan & Des Vere Hunt

2011-2012 John Tuthill

2012-2013 Tally-Ho Stud

2013-2014 Ballylinch Stud

2014-2015 Jim Bolger

2015-2016 Flat – Yeomanstown Stud & Doc Bloodstock

2015-2016 National Hunt – Eugene Bourke

2016-2017 Flat – Brendan and Anne Marie Hayes

2016-2017 National Hunt – Paddy Behan

2017-2018 Flat – Paul and Marie McCartan

2017-2018 National Hunt – Paul Rothwell

2018-2019 Flat – Aidan and Annemarie O’Brien

2018-2019 National Hunt – Jerry O’Brien

2019-2020 Flat – Moyglare Stud

2019-2020 National Hunt –Jim Mernagh

2020-2021 Flat – H.H. Aga Khan

2020-2021 National Hunt – Niall Flynn