P2P Q&A - Ronnie O'Neill

09 October 2020


Whytemount Stud stallion Valirann has had a great start in point-to-points, with three 4yo mares’ maiden winners from his first Irish-bred crop. What does that mean for the stud?
It’s a great start for him. Hopefully there will be plenty more to come. They are all fillies so far, which is a help. He has a few nice horses to run on the track too. The first filly that won a maiden back in March for Colin Bowe, Maggie's Mogul (IRE), was sold and is due to run in a bumper for David Pipe. Paul Nicholls has Knappers Hill (IRE), one I bred myself and sold as a foal. He’s entered for a bumper too. Tom Malone and Paul Nicholls bought him for €155,000 at the Land Rover Sale. And then the full brother to Knappers Hill (IRE) was third in a flat maiden first time out for Joseph Murphy in Tipperary last month. He hopes to go for a good maiden in the Curragh with him. Hopefully Valirann can get a winner on the track soon enough. The point-to-point boys love them so far anyway.

How did Valirann come to stand at Whytemount?
We got him from Aga Khan Studs. Julie White from Gilltown recommended him to me. The first stallion I ever bought was from the Aga Khan. This is Valirann’s first Irish-bred 4yo crop now and he’s been well supported every year. They are tough horses. That’s what makes them good. They come to hand very quickly too. It’s good to get fillies as well because a lot of stallions can get good geldings, but the fillies might not be up to much so you are losing half the crop. The last filly that won, Paloma Dove (IRE), was very impressive. She jumped brilliantly and made all the running. They seem to gallop and jump well. Saratoga Lass (IRE) was impressive at Ballingarry too. Valirann has been well supported so he won’t be stuck for runners.

What other stallions do you have on the Whytemount roster?
Affinisea (IRE) is by Sea The Stars (IRE) and has been very popular. His foals have sold exceptionally well and his first crop of 3yos next year look magnificent. He stamps every one of them bay or brown. A new stallion we had this year is Feel Like Dancing, by Galileo (IRE). He’s had a good few runners and winners in France. He’s still only ten. Some of his progeny have ended up in Ireland already. He had one in the Land Rover and one in the Derby Sale this year. I think the point-to-point lads bought both. His first crop are only 5yos in France. He has winners on the flat, over hurdles and over fences in France. He’s a big powerful horse with big stock. That’s one of the reasons we choose him. They all want big horses now. 

2020 has been a challenging year. How has the farm been affected?
Well there were plenty of mares covered in 2020 anyway. We have some lovely foals entered in the sales and just hope they go ahead as planned. The biggest danger is how many people turn up at the sales. It’s hard to know. What with restrictions everywhere. There are a lot of mares due to foal next year. For the moment we are just working away. We have a nice batch of foals and some lovely mares in foal for next year.

Tell us more about the history and the success of Whytemount.
We are completely family run. My son John and daughter Lorraine are here and my wife Linda does the books. My father before me had stallions here back in the 40s and 50s, so I suppose it’s in my blood to have stallions. Shahanndeh (IRE) was my first stallion. He was a half-brother to the dual Derby winner Shahrastani, but never raced. We covered a handful of mares with him ourselves and his first two runners won first time out. Then we got Stowaway and he was a huge influence. He went from covering very few mares to being the busiest sire in Europe. He unfortunately died, but the new horses we’ve had since like Valirann and Affinisea (IRE) have been very well supported so. That will give them a great chance. Horses we’ve bred include Outlander (IRE), who won three Grade Ones. Champagne Classic (IRE) won in Cheltenham and then a Grade One in Punchestown. Hidden Cyclone (IRE) won 17 races and was second in four Grade Ones. He was a great servant. Hopefully it’ll continue. We’ve got some lovely broodmares now, which is a great help to the stallions we have coming on. Stallions need good mares to get them going.

All Irish point-to-point 4yo Maidens in 2020 will be available to view on the ITM YouTube channel. Subscribe here.

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