Kavanagh Makes Consigning Debut At Goffs

Alice Kavanagh | Tattersalls


The Kavanagh family of Kildaragh Stud have been esteemed breeders and vendors for many years, so when an offshoot of the Kildaragh brand begins a new venture one should definitely sit up and take notice.

Step forward AK Thoroughbreds, the fledgling consigning business launched by Alice Kavanagh, daughter of the farm's owners Peter and Antoinette. AK Thoroughbred makes its consigning debut at the re-scheduled Goffs November Foal Sale at next week with an 11-strong draft of foals, and the young consignor is keen to get things underway.

“I'm very excited and even a little bit nervous,” admitted Kavanagh. “I'm full of optimism though as it's the fruition of a long-term plan to set up my own consignment.”

Kavanagh's education and work experience to date has been 100% tailored to developing a career in the bloodstock industry, and launching her own consignment has been the goal since she returned home to Kildaragh Stud earlier this year having spent a number of years around the world honing her craft.

“I came back this year to basically be assistant manager of Kildaragh Stud and that role also gives me the leeway at this time of the year to prep and sell foals and hopefully also mares going forward,” Kavanagh said.

Knowing exactly what you want to do with your life is a focus devoid in most teenagers, but Kavanagh's path was clear and her third level education centred around an Equine Business Management degree from Enniskillen College in Fermanagh.

As soon as college was finished, Kavanagh expanded her horizons and joined the Vigors family at Hillwood Stud for a stint of yearling prep before embarking on her next step even further afield.

“From England I went to Australia and worked a season at Yarraman Park Stud which was a brilliant experience,” Kavanagh said. “I then did two months travelling before making my way to New Zealand where I worked the breeding season and yearling sale season at Brighthill Farm. I really loved working there; it kind of reminded me of Ireland, but a bit warmer.”

Brighthill Farm is run by Irishman Nick King and is home to the former Martyn Meade-trained Group 2-winning son of Frankel (GB) Eminent (Ire) among other stallions, and the role proved a valuable learning curve for Kavanagh.

“I found it was a very different approach to prepping horses to what I was used to,” she said. “There were three stallions there at the time and we were prepping yearlings during the covering season so there was a huge amount going on. We were certainly kept on our toes as regards planning the prepping schedule around the three covers a day. Over here we obviously have our separate seasons and you can spread the workload a bit better. The bigger operations over there probably have separate teams for each function but Brighthill was a smaller farm so we all had to juggle everything. I loved the challenge though, as it was something new that I hadn't experienced.

“From a prepping point of view I think the horses spend more time outdoors, probably get more hand walking and there is quite a bit more presentation of the horses to potential buyers at the farm. That is a concept that seems to be gaining some traction over here, though perhaps the pandemic fast tracked it slightly.”

Kavanagh rounded out her apprenticeship by spending a year at Newsells Park Stud in England where she began working with yearlings and progressed to running the 'Wertheimer Barn' for the breeding season.

“The quality of stock at Newsells was a real eye-opener, proper blue blooded pedigrees and it was a pleasure to work with them,” she said. “Then I came home in June and helped with the Kildaragh yearlings and now I'm ready for this new challenge. We have 11 foals, some are being prepped here at home and the rest we will meet at Goffs.”

AK Thoroughbreds certainly has some interesting foals to help get the brand off to a good start and the eye is immediately drawn to lot 653, one of only four foals catalogued in the sale by Roaring Lion. The colt is out of stakes winner Kanes Pass (Ire) (Clodovil {Ire}), who posted seven victories in total and whose first foal made €85,000 at Goffs in 2018.

“Roaring Lion's first foals sold well in Newmarket so it's nice to have one by him out of a young stakes-winning mare going to the sales,” Kavanagh said. “Hopefully he will go down well with buyers.”

Kavanagh must have enjoyed watching the prolific exploits of the Dermot Weld-trained Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal) this year, which saw her claim three Group  1 contests and crown her season with a magnificent win in the GI Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland. AK Thoroughbreds's lot 745 by Dark Angel (Ire) is out of Tarakala (Ire) (Dr Fong), whose stakes-winning daughter Tarana (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) is the dam of Tarnawa.

“I couldn't have asked for a better update from Tarnawa for this colt who I'm selling on behalf of a client,” Kavanagh said. “He is a typical Dark Angel which shouldn't do him any harm. I'm also looking forward to selling the only foal in Goffs this year by Almanzor (Fr). He [lot 664] is out of a stakes-placed Azamour (Ire) mare and we are selling him on behalf of a Swiss client. The mare hasn't done much wrong yet breeding two winners and the sire is proving quite popular at the moment.”

Indeed, sire power seems to be a key factor among Kavanagh's first draft and lot 569 is another that should prove popular being a colt by the in vogue Night Of Thunder (Ire). The four-time winning dam Arabescatta (GB) (Monsun {Ger}) has bred three winners from four runners and Kavanagh said she is keen on his prospects.

“He is a Kildaragh homebred and is a super walker and is a really good physical,” she said. “I am quite excited about him to be honest.”

Kavanagh added, “I better give a mention also to lot 537, a colt by Harry Angel (Ire). He belongs to my brother Roderick and is out of a Dalakhani (Ire) mare from a great back pedigree of Footstepsinthesand (GB). I saw a few foals by Harry Angel in Newmarket and they seemed nice big physical horses with plenty of presence and I think this foal is in a similar mold.”

Going it alone in the bloodstock world can be a daunting prospect regardless of whether one has family connections in the game or not, and Kavanagh said she is very appreciative of the support and encouragement she has received so far.

“I have to mention a thank you to Madeline Burns of Rathasker Stud who pointed a few people who were looking for a consignor in my direction,” she said. “It's a great help when someone like her gives you an endorsement and in fairness I have experienced nothing but goodwill within the industry since I decided to branch out and I guess that should act as encouragement for anyone else harbouring similar ambitions. I am lucky I have a very good team of people showing for me next week so that means I can focus more on selling the horses. I will get next week out of the way before I make any grand plans about growing the business, but hopefully we will get off to a good start.”

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