Ecton Park has long been a favored stallion among Korean racehorse breeders. He was the winner of the Super Derby and Jim Dandy Stakes thoroughbred horse races in the United States.
After retiring from racing, he was purchased by Korea’s nonprofit Isidore farm to breed at Jejudo Island in 2009.
The state-run Korea Racing Authority has bought good-quality stallions since the 1990s. It then lets them cross with female horses free of charge.
However, in recent years, an increasing number of private farms have imported good horses themselves.
Ecton Park is an outstanding example. His progeny includes Mister Park, which won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2010 and broke the Korean record for most consecutive wins, and Indiband, which won the horse of the year in all categories. The stud fee for Ecton Park was reportedly set at 10 million won for 2014.
The owner of Ecton Park, the Isidore farm, was first set up in 1954 by P.J. Mcglinchey, an Irish priest who belonged to the Missionary Society of St. Columban. He intended to help the impoverished residents and small farms in Jejudo Island become economically self-sufficient.
“Since it was set up, the Isidore farm has grown to one of the largest farms in Korea. It was the first private farm to import high-class stallions like Ecton Park,” said Richard Troughton, general manager of Isidore farm, who has worked for the farm since 2001.
“Unlike other breeding industries, where artificial insemination is common, the only way to breed in the thoroughbred industry is to breed horse-on-horse.”
He said the industry saw fast growth over the last 10 years thanks to the KRA’s good management and its huge investment in importing good-quality stallions from around the world. In line with this, the private thoroughbred industry has been also growing.
“The record price at the latest auction in Korea was broken by a son of Ecton Park, with 290 million won,” he said.
“Breeders are now making more efforts to develop by themselves. For the industry to improve, it should be developed as a whole. Having a good pedigree is one step but you also need to improve food too. Isidore farm is the only farm in Korea feeding horses with 100 percent imported feed ― red mills from Ireland.”
Dangdae Bulpae, a recently retired stallion considered the best living racehorse in Korea, will also spend his rest life at the Isidore farm to stud next year.
Though Korea’s thoroughbred business is newer that that of other nations, its potential is high, Troughton said.
“With continued efforts by the KRA and private farms, we are expecting to see continued growth in the next 10 years too.”
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org)