Ashford Stud, owned by John Magnier and located in the heart of Kentucky’s famous Bluegrass, is Coolmore’s home in America. While now much larger in size, the initial tract of land that Ashford consisted of was 465 acres. That land was originally part of an important cattle farm owned by Col. Edmund H. Taylor Jr. who founded the Old Taylor Distilleries in nearby Frankfort. Known as Hereford Farm, the property was developed around 1912 and operated as a cattle farm up until the late 1970s. At that time, Dr. Bill Lockridge began to transform the farm into a state of the art stud, fit for the finest stallions in the world.
After three years of careful planning and construction, Ashford opened its doors for the 1982 breeding season. The stallion roster was headlined by Storm Bird, a horse that was the highest rated two-year-old in Europe while trained by the legendary Vincent O’Brien. Among the resident mares at Ashford in 1982 was Terlingua. Her mating to Storm Bird that year would have a lasting impact on thoroughbred breeding worldwide through the exploits of their prolific son Storm Cat.
When Ashford became part of John Magnier’s Coolmore operation in the mid-1980s, Storm Bird, along with the likes of El Gran Senor and Woodman, helped to establish Coolmore’s reputation on an international level through the late 80s and early 90s.
1996 marked the retirement of Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, who is out of a daughter of Storm Bird, to Ashford. Thunder Gulch would soon gain the distinction of being the first champion sire to stand at Ashford when he topped the general sire’s list in 2001. Not to be outdone, Ashford sires Hennessy (2001), Tale of the Cat (2003) and Giant’s Causeway (2005 & 2014), all earned champion juvenile sire honors to add to those won by Woodman in 1990 and 1994.
Just like our farm in Ireland is usually referred to as the Home of Champions, Ashford is home to some of the best young sires in America. The stallion roster is led by Giant’s Causeway, whose achievements so far include three champion sire titles; a feat only achieved by such luminaries as Bull Lea, Nasrullah, Bold Ruler and Danzig since 1941, record breaking young sire Uncle Mo and Triple Crown hero American Pharoah. With a selection of the best proven sires and young sire prospects America has to offer standing alongside this illustrious trio, it’s safe to say Ashford’s iconic stallion barns will continue to house influential breed shapers for years to come.