Heritage Stud was founded on the principle of breeding horses to excel at the highest levels of show jumping, a commitment that remains at the core of their operations. The recent success of the homebred Heritage stud Chloe Gp Z, placing at the pinnacle of the sport alongside Kevin Staut at the prestigious 5* Saut Hermes show, reaffirms their dedication and focus.

The inception of Heritage Stud coincided with the retirement of several internationally acclaimed sports mares, each hailing from solid damlines. What set Heritage apart was the unique advantage of having these mares previously competed by their riders, affording Heritage an intimate understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This firsthand knowledge continues to support the breeding selections as Heritage refine and develop their bloodlines.


Heritage’s Central European base, ‘Haras de Ligny,’ stands as a testament to their commitment to excellence. Originally established by the renowned Nelson Pessoa, Richie and Martina were fortunate to acquire this esteemed facility upon his retirement.

As of late, Heritage’s primary breeding operations are centered in Ireland, specifically at Ballinasisla in Waterford. Situated in the picturesque seaside village of Bunmahon, it’s an area Richie and Martina find immensely enjoyable. Bunmahon holds a storied legacy as the birthplace of numerous international horses, ridden by some of the world’s finest equestrians such as Ambassador ridden by Mancinelli, Manhattan ridden by David Broome, and Gone Away ridden by Raimondo D’Inzeo, among others.

Interestingly, Nelson Pessoa achieved many international victories riding a mare named Miss Moet, who hailed from Bunmahon and was later gifted back to her breeder upon retirement.

Breeding and competing at the highest level requires a dedicated team effort. The logistics of managing a breeding operation spanning Ireland and Belgium can be challenging. However, Heritage have a skilled team, including renowned rider Kevin Staut, who ensures that their horses reach their full potential on the international stage. The team manage the insemination and foaling of the mares and Thomas Quigley does a lot of the handling of their three-year-olds. Thibault Todd is currently breaking many of the younger horses and their education is progressed by Sacha Larrive Petit and Jacklyn Suaria, the calibre of work and professionalism by these riders makes everything run smoothly.

The shining star of Heritage Stud is undoubtedly the championship stallion Milton Z (My Lord Carthago x Sandro Boy). With this year’s Olympics firmly in their sights, no effort is spared in preparing Milton for the pinnacle of competition. Kevin Staut’s participation adds to the anticipation, setting high expectations for Milton’s performance.

Milton has been a sensation in the international show jumping and breeding circuits for several years now. His popularity in France has skyrocketed, where he’s hailed as the rightful successor to My Lord Carthago. This was evident at the recent stallion show in Saint Lô, France, where Milton was the most sought-after stallion of the weekend.

Irish riders have also recognised Milton’s prowess, with esteemed competitors like Peter Moloney, Richie Molony, and veterinary surgeon Tim Brennan (father to two of Ireland’s junior team members, Eoin and Timmy) utilising him for breeding. Currently stationed in Ireland, Milton was showcased at the stallion show in Cavan last weekend. Heritage extend an open invitation to breeders unable to attend that event to visit Milton at Ballinasisla Stud while the opportunity lasts.

Collaborating with Ireland’s producers and breeders has been a fulfilling aspect of establishing Heritage’s breeding operation here. Continuously expanding their network within the country’s equestrian community is a priority. Witnessing Heritage Stud-bred horses compete at the highest echelons of the sport is a source of great pride and joy. According to Richie, it would be a dream come true to see one of their Irish homebreds represent Ireland on an Aga Khan team.

Last year, Heritage had the fortune of selling an exceptionally promising young stallion from their crop of Irish three-year-olds to Eoin and Timmy Brennan. Formerly known as Legend of Heritage, he’s now named Mayweather. The Brennan family will be preparing him for the RDS four-year-old class this year, and Heritage eagerly anticipate his performance. Another three-year-old bred at home in Ireland was successfully auctioned at the prestigious Fences Sales in France. The Heritage horses are always made available for sale at the opportune moment, and Richie and Martina say it brings immense joy to see them find suitable homes.

Lush green pastures

Over the past six years, Heritage have made significant advancements in their facilities in Ireland, with ambitious plans for the future. Ballinasisla Stud now boasts over 150 acres of lush green pastures, complete with 50 stable areas, paddocks, and walking facilities. Their aim is to expand their focus on producing young sport horses here and to utilise the stud as a hub for competition. Furthermore, they are contemplating the establishment of a European centre at Ballinasisla. This centre would specialise in the production and storage of frozen and chilled semen and embryos, with the capability to ship across Europe and beyond.

The key principle to heed is prioritising quality over quantity, a valuable lesson Richie and Martina have gleaned, particularly from the Irish horse breeding tradition. Ireland’s rich horsemanship heritage has been an enlightening source of wisdom, especially when it comes to the necessity of uncompromising selection. Richie admits that engaging with seasoned horse judges from older generations has been both enriching and humbling and their insights often offer invaluable perspectives on the Heritage breeding endeavors.

In an industry potentially oversaturated with horses, the emphasis on quality cannot be overstated. Performance, temperament, lineage, and conformation are paramount considerations in the breeding process. While many breeders may not derive their livelihood solely from this pursuit, the initial investment in superior breeding stock is undeniably worthwhile. The incremental cost difference between a good and subpar broodmare, for instance, is negligible when considering the long-term dividends.

The Heritage preference lies with established stallions over young prospects. Despite the allure of promoting up-and-coming sires, the pragmatic reality is that their offspring may not consistently meet the standards required for elite competition. Mediocrity is simply not an option in the breeding realm, particularly as the demands of the sport evolve to encompass increasingly technical challenges. A horse’s mindset and willingness to collaborate with its rider are non-negotiable attributes, essential for success in any equestrian endeavor.

There’s a growing apprehension among top trainers regarding modern breeding trends, particularly the fixation on heightened bloodlines and sharpness. It’s imperative to recognise the limitations of such approaches, as excessive emphasis on these traits can compromise the trainability and suitability of horses for their intended purposes. As stewards of these magnificent animals, Heritage see their responsibility and that of the industry, as fostering the highest calibre of equine athletes capable of fulfilling their roles effectively and harmoniously.

There is undoubtedly a pressing need for more veterinarians and AI centres in Ireland. Heritage believe it would be beneficial to witness a structural evolution that aligns more closely with central Europe, fostering networks and collaborations among centres. It is Heritage’s hope that both the Minister of Agriculture and farm owners will prioritise and implement these advancements. Richie is not generally enthusiastic about ICSI having only utilised it in cases of difficulties with ovulation or poor quality oocytes in high performing mares. However, he admits to being grateful for its availability in situations where no other viable options remain, ensuring the continuation of valuable bloodlines.