Aug, 2023
Breeders from all over the country were honoured at the Connolly's Red Mills The Irish Field Breeder of the Year Awards

OFFALY’S significant contribution to racing and breeding is often overlooked but there was no denying the Faithful County at the Connolly’s Red Mills\The Irish Field Breeder of the Year dinner.

Derek and Gay Veitch of Ringfort Stud in Rhode, Co Offaly received the top flat award and how well it was deserved following their production of a string of very fast top-class racehorses in recent years.

The Veitchs were nominated for the award through breeding Minzaal, the record-breaking Haydock Sprint Cup winner from last year. However, in the meantime they have been responsible for another Group 1 star in Anmaat, winner of the Prix d’Ispahan in May.

These Group 1 wins come just a couple of years after a golden spell in the autumn of 2020 when Ringfort Stud bred three Group 2 winners – Ubettabelieveit, Threat and Miss Amulet.

Offaly is sometimes associated with bogland but, as Agricultural Trust chairman Matt Dempsey pointed out during the awards, there is a seam of high quality soil running through the midlands.

Discussing his adopted county, Fermanagh native Derek Veitch commented: “On one side of the hedge it’s bog, on the other it’s lovely limestone land. We’re just lucky we’re on the right side of the hedge!”

Wexford has just about become the unofficial nursery of National Hunt champions and its latest star graduate is Grand National winner Corach Rambler. His breeder Paul Hillis got a great reception when he was named National Hunt Breeder of the Year.

Paul did not receive a fortune when he sold the horse as a maiden point-to-pointer but he was wise enough to keep a share in the horse when it joined trainer Lucinda Russell and the rest is history.

On top of his Aintree success, Corach Rambler has won twice at the Cheltenham Festival and could be going back there for a Gold Cup bid next March. “It’s only a rumour at the moment,” Paul revealed. “The horse is back in work and a decision will be made in the next few weeks as to what the plan is for the season.”

Over 50 breeders and industry stakeholders gathered for the awards in Pat Keane’s Hanged Man’s Restaurant in Milltown, not far from the Curragh, in Kildare on Tuesday evening.

This was the 18th year of the awards, which brings together two of the best known brands in Irish racing – The Irish Field and Connolly’s Red Mills – which have over 250 years of history between them.

Gareth Connolly, chief executive of Connolly’s Red Mills, said how much he and his team enjoy meeting grassroots breeders at the event which allows them to “give something back” to the sector.


Flat Breeder of the Year: Derek and Gay Veitch

NH Breeder of the Year: Paul Hillis

June 2022: Bernd and Ute Schone for La Petite Coco

July 2022: William Quinn for Hewick

August 2022: Timmy and Tim Hyde for Little Big Bear

September 2022: Derek and Gay Veitch for Minzaal

October 2022: Ballylinch Stud for Bayside Boy

November 2022: Trevor Stewart for Victoria Road

December 2022: Micheál Conaghan for Paisley Park

January 2023: Joe and Harry Lalor for Carefully Selected

February 2023: Willie and Frances Austin for Blazing Khal

March 2023: Kieran and Damien Gleeson and Owen Hickey for Stay Away Fay

April 2023: Paul Hillis for Corach Rambler

May 2023: John Hayes for Jannah Rose