Racing Post Article July 3rd 2013 - Ardbraccan
Kilfrush Stock Sold to Big New US Investors BY MARTIN STEVENS FAMED County Limerick racing and breeding operation Kilfrush Stud has sold all of its stock - including dual Group 1 heroine Immortal Verse - to a big new spending force in European racing. The deal was struck after the death of one of the principal owners of Kilfrush Stud last year. The 300-acre property is likely to be sold in the near future too, but Brendan Hayes, the managing director of the operation since the early 1980s, stressed yesterday no sale had been completed. "The farm has not yet been sold - it remains the property of the family," he said. "A sale will happen, whether privately or by public auction." More than 30 of the stud's horses, comprising foals, yearlings, horses in training and broodmares, have been sold to Texans John Moores and Charles Noell, who operate under the banner of Merriebelle Stable. Peter Bance, adviser to the new owners of the Kilfrush horses, did not reveal their cost, but said yesterday: "All I can say is we got some nice horses. It would normally take someone a long time to collect the quality we have in these families." It would have taken a huge investment to secure the Kilfrush stock. Immortal Verse, an impeccably bred daughter of Pivotal who claimed the scalp of Goldikova in the Prix Jacques le Marois, would likely have fetched a price well into seven figures if she had come up for public auction. Moores and Noell now own her (she is in foal to Dansili), her dam and several relations. Some of the stock purchased has already been culled, including a Lawman filly out of Traou Mad who topped this year's DBS breeze-up sale at £210,000, but Merriebelle will also be adding to its string in Europe. Moores and Noell own farms in Ireland, Kentucky and Maryland. They have been involved in breeding for a while - they were major shareholders in Kingmambo - but are now growing their mare band and will breed to sell and to race. Noell, a founder of investment group JMI Equity, was among the buyers of Hunt Ball. He recently paid nearly €5 million for a mansion on the Ardbraccan estate in Navan. Bance said Europe's tougher stance on medication had influenced the decision to increase involvement on this side of the Atlantic. "They recognise that European racing is comparatively free of the medication problems we have in America," he said. "They look forward to breeding from horses who have raced without drugs. "American racing has got to the point where people are looking elsewhere to buy horses because we are sticking horses so full of needles and other things to help them along. "The racing in Europe is fun and it's a great sporting atmosphere. But they are American and they hope things here clean up, and they still plan to breed here." Kilfrush Stud was founded around the turn of the 1980s and among the top horses to carry the silks were champions Last Tycoon and Whipper.