An initiative of Horse Sport Ireland

TOKYO 2020 : Fifteen Irish-bred horses making history by Flying the Flag for Irish Breeders at the Tokyo Olympics  

General July 31, 2021

Irish-bred sport horses are making history by representing Ireland in the three disciplines of Show jumping, Eventing and Dressage for the first time ever, at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

This year, an impressive total of fifteen Irish Bred horses will compete, with six of the Irish Federation rider nominations for the Tokyo Olympics competing on Irish bred Horses, demonstrating the impressive strides the Irish breeding and production industry has taken in recent years.  The Irish Sport Horses Pacino Amiro (ISH) and Kilkenny (ISH) have been selected to represent Ireland in Show jumping, while Rioghan Rua (ISH), Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH), Colorado Blue (SHBGB) and Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) were selected for Ireland’s Eventing team and Heike Holstein has competed brilliantly already in Tokyo on her homebred Sambuca (BE/SIES), in the Dressage competition.

Heike Holstein and the Irish-bred mare Sambuca during day 2 of the Dressage Team and Individual Qualifier at the Equestrian Park during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Breeding and breeding successes are always the result of individual breeders’ decisions and in that regard, congratulations are due to all the Irish breeders who have horses competing at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The breakdown of the fifteen Irish bred horses is as follows, there are, 12 Irish bred Eventers, 1 Dressage and 2 Show jumping horses.The assistance of HSI’s breeding programmes providing enhanced verified information sources, national breeding initiatives focused on performance breeding goals and suitable production and competition pathways to develop young horses within Ireland and has been noted as of significant assistance by breeders in producing these horses. The sport horse breeding goal is ‘to produce a performance horse that is sound, athletic with good paces and suitable temperament and capable of winning at the highest international level in FEI disciplines’, it is certainly providing a significant dividend in 2021.

The production events such as the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Show jumping and Eventing Series and the HSI Development series and the support of the RDS National championships which are designed to facilitate young horse production, are a key steppingstone when it comes to the development of top international horses, here in Ireland. These classes, together with many more supported events throughout the country are tailored to develop the capabilities of  four to seven-year-old horses.

In 2020 Horse Sport Ireland introduced a development series for all disciplines. With Covid 19 playing a major factor in traveling internationally for competition, this initiative gave all producers in all three disciplines the opportunity to continue to produce their horses in top class venues and competitions around Ireland.

Director of Breeding & Programmes Alison Corbally said:

“We would like to congratulate the breeders of the horses representing Ireland at the Olympics in Tokyo and we talked to some of them in the run up to the Olympic games.”


Sambuca (BE/SIES) this 2009 mare is by Samarant (HANN) out of Astoria (ISH) by Limmerick (HOLST). She is bred, owned and ridden by Heike Holstien.

Speaking from Tokyo, Heike Holstein said:

‘It is definitely extra special to be competing in the Olympics on board a horse that I bred and produced myself to this level. I am extremely proud of this horse. She adjusted really well to the climate in Tokyo,  She was in a stable away from other horses but nothing seems to phase her strong mind. We were in the main ring and the screens, flowers, flags and general activity didn’t bother her at all. It is a huge comfort when we are strong minded together and are working in the right direction on the same path. I am extremely proud to have this mare at this level.

I bought her dam as a three-year-old. I then produced her until she was seven. As my family life began to grow then so did hers. We put her in foal to Samarant (HANN). My mum Gisela Holstien saw him at an international stallion parade and we felt he would really suit Astoria (ISH). Sambuca was my first home bred foal. Samarant died shortly after but we had more progeny which we sold,  but they continue to have successful performance careers in Ireland. We then sold Astoria, but I know she is continuing to breed with her owner Anthony McFarland.’

‘During the last year is has been particularly difficult to attend shows abroad given the restrictions associated with Covid 19, However we were fortunate that Horse Sport Ireland and Dressage Ireland ran the Autumn development series. It was a great initiative and these days kept my younger horse Kingston Forget Me Not (ISH) and Sambuca in competition mind set and offered riders the opportunity to continue to produce our horses on home soil.’

When asked about Sambuca’s future Heike said:

‘I will continue to compete this mare but during this journey I am excited to explore the breeding opportunities with her. She is an extremely special mare and I will never rule out a breeding career for her down the road. Hopefully we can start this dream all over again. Being here with a horse I bred, produced and still own is every rider or horsepersons dream. I feel privileged to be living it’

Show jumping

Pacino Amiro (ISH), the 2012 gelding by Pacino (BWP) out of Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) by NC Amiro (AES), bred by Simon Scott and owned by Aiden McGrory, will be ridden by Wexford’s Bertram Allen at the Games. Bred by Simon Scott, Pacino Amiro (ISH) was sold as a yearling to Aiden McGrory where he began his Show jumping career. Ridden by Kenneth Graham, Pacino Amiro was produced through the ISH studbook series as a five, six and seven-year-old. Kenneth then went on to jump Pacino Amiro in several 1.35m Grand Prix’s. Pacino Amiro has gone from strength to strength since Bertram took over the ride in August of 2020, racking up some impressive results including a fantastic win in Wellington’s CSI5* 1.60m Grand Prix.

Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro (ISH) © Sportfot

When speaking with Simon Scott about Pacino Amiro (ISH) he said

‘I bought Pacino Amiro’s dam, Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) as a four-year-old from Ronan McLoughlin, for whom I used to break a lot of horses. She was a super mare herself and jumped up to 1.40m, so the plan was always to breed from her. We chose Pacino (BWP) as the stallion as he had a great canter and super jump, so we thought that this would really compliment the dam, who was quite sharp herself’.

“Pacino Amiro was a winner from the day he was born, and this is reflected in his success with Kenneth in the Studbook Series and being selected to compete in Lanaken. A lot of the horse’s success comes down to the competitions and classes available to producers, and the Studbook Series and RDS national championships are key facilitators of young horse production in Ireland. Everybody’s goal is to successfully produce a horse through the series. If they can jump successfully in the Studbook Series, they are ready to jump anywhere in the world.’

Cian O’Connor and The Irish Sport Horse Kilkenny (Photo: Sportfot)

The second Irish Sport Horse to represent Ireland’s Show jumping team at this years Olympics is Kilkenny (ISH), a 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembroke Lady (ISH) by Guidam (SF). Bred by the late Ita Brennan and owned by Susan Magnier, Kilkenny will be piloted by Cian O’Connor in Tokyo. Kilkenny (ISH) is another graduate of the ISH Studbook Series, having been produced through the series under Sophie Richards. Winners of the five-year-old Irish Sport Horse Studbook Series final, the combination progressed through the young horse classes, culminating in a fifth place in the Flavours of Fingal 1.40m Underwriting Exchange National Grand Prix in June of 2019. Cian O’Connor took over the reins in August of 2020, with the pair having much success, including a Nations Cup team appearance in June and a second-place finish in the CSI5* 1.55m Table A in Wellington, Florida earlier this year.


Rioghan Rua (ISH) is one of the three Irish Sport Horses that were selected for the Irish eventing team. Rioghan Rua (ISH), a 2007 mare by Jack of Diamonds (SWE) out of Highland Destiny (ISH)[TIH] by Flagmount King (ID), is bred and owned by Margaret Kinsella in Galway and is ridden by Cathal Daniels. Started by Rachel Power, Cathal took over the ride in March of 2013 where their immediate partnership began. The pair were part of the gold medal winning team at the European Junior Championships in 2013 and went on to win another team gold medal and an individual silver medal at the European Junior Championships in 2014. In 2018 the combination won a team silver medal at the World Equestrian Games and have since gone on to win an individual bronze medal at the 2019 European Championships.

Sam Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH)

Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) ridden by Sam Watson is the second ISH on the Irish Olympic Eventing team for this years Games. The 2009 gelding by Tullabeg Fusion (ISH) out of Tullabeg Heidi (UNK) by Ardenteggle Sir (IPSA), was bred by Nicholas Cousins and is owned by Vahe Bogossian.

When speaking with Nicholas Cousins about Tullabeg Flamenco he noted

“I bought the sire, Tullabeg Fusion (ISH) as a foal in Goresbridge as he had a good pedigree and was a nice type. I chose to breed him with Tullabeg Heidi as she had been producing very good offspring. I knew from early on the Tullabeg Flamenco was very special and this became more apparent when I broke him as a four-year-old. He was trainable, quiet, sound and had a very good brain. I then sold him to Vahe Bogossian, and he was started by Nelius O’Donoghue before Meabh Bolger began competing him as a five-year-old. Meabh and Tullabeg Flamenco went on to win five 1* classes in a row in that first year, just proving how special he was. Sam Watson took over the ride when he was a six-year-old and that is when he really started to progress through the ranks. He was lucky as he has been so well produced, he fell into the right hands early on and that has really shown in his success.”

Another Irish Sport Horse representing Ireland at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH), ridden by Sarah Ennis. Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) is a 2009 gelding by Garrison Royal (ISH) out of Davitt Star (ISH) by Furisto (HANN). Bred by Patrick J Kearns and owned by Breda Kennedy, Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) has been competed by Sarah Ennis since his first EI100 outing as a five-year-old in 2014. This combination had much success in recent years, including a third-place finish in Chatsworth CCI4*-S in 2019 and a second-place finish in Ballindenisk CCI4*-L in 2020. These impressive results were awarded by a 10th place ranking in the WBFSH eventing rankings in 2020, making Horseware Woodcourt Garrison the highest place eventing and show jumping Irish Sport Horse last year.

The fourth member of the Irish Eventing team, Colorado Blue ridden by Austin O’Connor, was also bred in Ireland at Mellon Stud in Co Limerick by  Kate Jarvey. Colorado Blue (SHBGB) is a 2009 gelding by Jaguar Mail (SF) out of Rock Me Baby (AES), by Rock King (WNTR), owned by Austin O’Connor & The Salty Syndicate.

It is a testament to all the breeders, producers, and competitors within the Irish Sport Horse industry that five Irish Sport Horses are representing team Ireland at this year’s Olympic Games. This demonstrates the increasing competitiveness of the Irish Sport Horse Industry on an international level, which will no doubt continue to grow into the future. Horse Sport Ireland would once again like to congratulate all breeders, owners and producers who have been involved in these horses nominated to represent Team Ireland at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and wish them every success at the Games.

Breeding and Breeder details:

Eventing/Show jumping and Dressage.

  1. RIOGHAN RUA (ISH)2007 mare by JACK OF DIAMONDS (SWE) out of HIGHLAND DESTINY (ISH) by Flagmount King (IDC1). Bred by MARGARET KINSELLA of Galway, owned by MARGARET and FRANK KINSELLA and ridden by Cathal Daniels (IRL).
  2. TULLABEG FLAMENCO (ISH) 2009 geldingby TULLABEG FUSION (ISH) out of TULLABEG HEIDI (ISH) by ARDENTEGGLE SIR (IPSA). Bred by NICHOLAS COUSINS of Co. Wexford, owned by Vahe Bogossian and ridden by Sam Watson (IRL).
  3. WOODCOURT GARRISON(ISH) 2009 male by GARRISON ROYAL (ISH) out of DAVITT STAR (ISH) by FURISTO (HANN). Bred by PATRICK J KEARNS of Co.Laois, owned by BREDA KENNEDY and ridden by Sarah Ennis (IRL).
  4. BALLAGHMOR CLASS(ISH) 2007 gelding by Courage II (HOLST) out of Kilderry Place (ISH) (no dam of sire recorded). He was bred by Noel Hickey of Co. Limerick, ridden by Oliver Townend (GBR) and owned by Val Ryan, Angela Hislop and Karyn Shuter.
  5. LARCHFIELD PURDY(ISH) 2002 gelding out of Hallo Purdy (ISH) by Hallo. (Sire not recorded). Bred by Patrick Hally of Co. Kilkenny and owned by Purdy Syndicate, CCC and Lauren Billys. Ridden by Lauren Billys(PUR).
  6. GROVINE DE REVE(ISH) 2008 gelding by HERMES DE REVE (BE) out of ERKINA JANE (ISH) by RIMILIS (TB). Bred by PADDY AND MARIA RAGGETT of Co. Kilkenny, owned by Therese Miller and Jonelle Price and ridden by Jonelle Price (NZL).
  7. MP IMAGINE IF(ISH) 2011 mare by SHANNONDALE SARCO ST GHYVAN (BWP) out of FAST MORNING FLIGHT (ISH) by Errigal Flight (ISH). Bred by MR MRS JOHN MCMAHON. Owned by Tatyana Gura and ridden ridden by Mikhail Nastenko (RUS)
  8. CARNIVAL MARCH (ISH) – 2011 gelding by Cavalier Carnival (ISH) out of Ryans Cruise (ISH), by Atlantic Cruise (ISH). Breeder: Martin Ryan, Tipperary. Owners:Harald Link, Sureeporn Pitakanonda & Nunthinee Tanner. Rider: Weerapat Pitakanonda (THA)
  9. TULLYORAN CRUISE (ISH) 2008 mare by VRIEND (KWPN) out of TULLYORAN (ISH) by Bahrain Cruise (ISH). Bred by PATRICK WALPOLE of Co. Leitrim, owned by the Japan Equestrian Federation and ridden by Yoshiaki Oiwa (JPN)
  10. GLENFLY (IRE) (TB)  2005 gelding by Presenting (TB) out of Dorans Glen (TB), by Over the River (TB). Breeder: R Ryan. Owner/Rider: Marcelo Tosi (BRA).
  11. COLORADO BLUE (SHBGB) 2009 gelding by Jaguar Mail (SF) out of Rock Me Baby (AES), by Rock King (WNTR). Breeder: Mellon Stud / Kate Jarvey, Limerick. Owners: Austin O’Connor & The Salty Syndicate. Rider: Austin O’Connor (IRL).
  12. BALHAM MIST (SHBGB) 2007 gelding by Mill Law out of Rock Me Baby (AES), by Rock King (WNTR). Breeder: Kate Jarvey, Limerick. Owners: Andrew Ayres & Svennerstål Eventing AB. Rider: Ludwig Svennerstal (SWE).
  13. KILKENNY (ISH) 2012 gelding (formerly known as MHS Fernhill) by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembrook (ISH) by Guidam (SF). Bred by Ita Brennan from Co. Kilkenny and owned by Susan Magnier and Ronnoco Jump LTD. Ridden by Cian O’Connor (IRL)
  14. PACINO AMIRO (ISH) 2012 gelding by Pacino (BWP) out of Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) by NC Amiro (AES). Bred by Simon Scott of Co. Donegal, is owned by AIDEN MCGRORY and ridden by Bertram Allen (IRL)
  15. SAMBUCCA (BE/SIES) 2009 mare by Samarant (HANN) out of Astoria (ISH) by Limmerick (HOLST). She is bred, owned and ridden by Heike Holstien.

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