Champion mare Urban Sea took centre stage at the 2009 Irish TBA awards on the weekend.
Urban Sea, who died in March after giving birth to a colt by Invincible Spirit, received the Special Achievement Award while her champion son Sea The Stars was a unanimous choice to receive the award for 3yo Colt of 2009.
Bloodstock agent and breeder John O’Byrne received the Special Recognition award. He bought Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Rip Van Winkle for 170,000 euros at the Italian yearling sale in Milan.
The troubled state of the Irish racing and breeding industry was also aired at the awards. ITBA chairman Joe Foley said Sea The Stars is one of only seven new stallions in Ireland this year compared to the 24 who took up stud duties two years ago.
According to Foley, around a third of Irish broodmares are at least 16 years old because breeders are struggling to upgrade. “We are having a tough time because our industry doesn’t get the same level of support as other sectors from government,” Foley claimed. “A business expansion scheme is vital so that Irish breeders don’t lose any more ground to our foreign competitors”.