Yesterday we went on our second stud tour to visit Kildangan Stud, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Ireland based breeding centre. On arrival we were introduced to Joe Osbourne, who is the managing director of the stud. He explained a few of the many trophies on display in the office, gave us a short history of the farm and handed us all catalogue's and pens, before introducing us to Eamon Moloney who was to show us the stallions. Eamon is one of the many on the Darley nominations team, and was a gold mine of knowledge on the stallions. We were shown the whole gang; Cape Cross, Echo Of Light, Kheleyf, Manduro, Raven's Pass, Shamardal, Iffraaj and Teofillo. We were also lucky enough to be able to watch Echo Of Light covering from the viewing room in the serving barn. The serving barn was beautifully designed, as you would expect! Situated in the centre of the stallion yard, it is a rounded indoor arena with padded walls, and an in built foal pen so as to not interrupt the circular interior, with the polytrack flooring. The stallion yard itself is designed in a circle, with three stallion stables in each block, 12 in total. A 25 box barn is situated behind the stallion yard with an entrance in front on the entrance to the serving barn. This barn houses all the mares due to be covered that day or the next, the B&B! Huge photo frames line the barn featuring Darley racing heroes, stallions present and past, and mares and foals. Something that has to be seen to be believed, it was amazing!
After the stallion tour we were taken in convoy on the stud tour. Our first stop was the main yard, that is rarely used now and is more for show. The rectangular yard was built in the 1700's!!!!! All the stables were red brick and there was a pond and trees in the grassy centre, complete with ducks! All the paddocks were perfectly manicured, with lots of big old trees, and fenced with hedges. The main house (or mansion, palace, castle) is in the centre of the farm, and has its own helipad on the front lawn. The Sheikh has not been to the stud in the last 5 years, so the house is used for special visitors and clients. The front of the house has views that lead to the Wicklow mountains, which was specially designed. The rest of the farm is woodlands amongst the paddocks.
The foaling unit was another highlight of our tour. The night staff sit in a nurse's station type set up, with all the mares due to foal circled around the station, with reflective glass, so staff can see in, but the mare cant see out. This really helps keep the mares quiet and calm prior to foaling which is an important thing to acheive. There is also a specified fostering unit and intensive care unit incorporated into the adjacent barn. Again the stables were magnificently designed with the comfort of the mare and foal paramount.
Another interesting part of the farm we visited was the compost/recycling area. All the muck taken from the straw stables is composted and used on the paddocks. They had a huge machine that turns the muck heaps 3 times a week, and the muck is broken down enough to be used within 6 weeks.
There is no way to describe the beauty of Kildangan. If I were horse, this is where I would love to live! It has to be seen to be believed!
Hope All's Well!