Ireland’s stallion masters threw open their doors last weekend to invite breeders and the general public to attend the fifth edition of the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Irish Stallion Trail.

Twenty-eight studs were listed on the trail, from the likes of heavyweights Ballylinch Stud, Coolmore, Gilltown and Kildangan Stud to leading National Hunt operations such as Knockhouse Stud, Boardsmill Stud, Sunnyhill Stud and many others.

For these operations, the opportunity to showcase the very best stallions and racehorses that now reside in the country is one not to be missed.

Ballylinch Stud in County Kilkenny boasts a wonderful history having been home to its foundation stallion The Tetrarch, and is now home to the rapidly-rising Lope De Vega, the son of Shamardal who will stand 2019 at a career-high fee of €80,000.

The nursery also boasts Prix du Jockey Club hero New Bay, Champion Stakes scorer Fascinating Rock, dual Group 1 winner Make Believe and dual-purpose stallion Beat Hollow, who now resides in The Tetrarch’s box.

For Ballylinch’s Managing Director John O’Connor, the ITM Irish Stallion Trail is an important event to be supporting.

O’Connor said: “We’ve always had open days for our clients to thank them for their support but we’ve blended this into the trail so it opens it up to people who might not normally come here.

“It’s something that the industry can do to thank fans for their support each year and that can only be a good thing.”

For ITM who organise the trail each year, 2019’s edition has proven to be the most successful yet, with over 2,500 individual registrations recorded via their website to visit the 28 farms.

Rathasker Stud, home to the exciting Bungle Inthejungle, was one of the farms to notice an increase in footfall. Maurice Burns, owner of Rathasker, said: “We had a constant flow of visitors, including old customers, new customers and racing fans.

“The trail is a great way for us to promote the stud and we also sold nominations to our stallions, which really makes it all worthwhile.”

Alex Cairns, Marketing Executive at ITM, added: “The ITM Irish Stallion Trail has become an annual pilgrimage for breeders and racing fans. There was great momentum behind the event in 2019 and the positive feedback we have received has been a huge source of satisfaction.

“ITM would like to thank all breeders, racing professionals, media and fans who joined the ITM Irish Stallion Trail in 2019.

“We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the 28 farms that so generously opened their doors to showcase Irish thoroughbred breeding. Plans for 2020 are already underway.”