Vincent Halley and Calluna Stables

Calluna Stables is situated outside the village of Kill in Co. Waterford. Vincent Halley trains his string of horses from the fast developing yard and has achieved great success both on the track and between the flags with his team. There are 15 horses in the yard at the moment and that number is expected to reach 25 in time for winter racing.

Daily Routine at Calluna Stables

Starting at 6 am every day, Vincent has a daily routine for each one of his horses. Vincent says; “Each morning each horse is fed, we then check their legs, check their temperature and get them tacked up and on the horse walker before they go working on the gallops”. With horses getting just one full day off each week, the yard is fully operational each day. Each horse in the yard is different – some requiring more work than others due to their temperament.

vet calluna
Horses being checked early in the morning before their work

After being tacked up and spending time on the walker, the horses then go out on the circular sand gallop. The sand gallop is prepped with Wexford sand which, Vincent says, is used by many top trainers across Ireland and England due to its reputation as being the best quality for horses to gallop on. Vincent says; “The horses warm up in the two furlong circular sand gallop before they go on to the five furlong uphill woodchip gallop where the horses will do their faster work. These are our two main gallops but we also have a five furlong grass gallop on site with Easyfix hurdles and fences for schooling purposes”.

A new sand arena is currently under construction on site which, when completed, will make Calluna a fantastic training facility. Another feature the yard can boast is a river which runs through the forest located below the circular sand gallop. Vincent says this offers horses a change of scenery and the water can help a horse to recover after some hard work on the gallops. “The river helps to cool off the horses after their work and it freshens up both their legs and their minds. It’s a great thing to have available to us here on site.” With grass paddocks located at the back of the yard, horses can spend time out in the fresh air with the sun on their back which is something many trainers think is an invaluably positive factor in a horse’s progression in the Spring and Summer months.

Every detail is written down in the tack room in the yard. A whiteboard with intricately written instructions for each horse is displayed, something which Vincent is very particular about, he says; “Everything from the horses feed to their temperature to their work schedule to what day’s they will be racing etc. is written down. When you’re training horses you need to keep track of every little detail”.

Getting Horses Race Ready

With fantastic facilities at his disposal, Vincent doesn’t have to leave his yard to get horses ready for their races. With the sand gallop and the five furlong uphill gallop, the horses do their work in the lead up to their races at Calluna. “Typically, if a horse is down to run on a Saturday we give them a hard bit of work on a Tuesday and it’s just a case of keeping them ticking over until the weekend. After a breeze on the Tuesday, the horse might be in the walker or on the sand gallop doing slower work for the rest of the week”. If a horse is not down to run, their work is stepped up every other day. “We’d do slow work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with faster work Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Horses will have a rest day then on a Sunday and back at it at the beginning of the week. Different horses will need different work so it does vary but that would be a typical week”.

Carrigready and Sparkalark enjoying their morning work

After they have been racing, the horses will be given a day off and usually freshened up with a dip in the river and a spell in the walker. As each horse has different traits and characteristics, each one needs a different routine both before and after racing, something that Vincent says is important. “Every horse is different and we try different things to keep them sweet – some like being out in the open in the paddocks, some like being in the stable and some like going down to the river to relax”.

calluna river
The river at the bottom of Calluna Stables

Horses In The Yard

Currently, there are 15 horses in the yard and Vincent hopes to have up to 25 by the time Winter comes around. “I have some great supporters, people who have been with me since the beginning like the Forans from Kilkenny who own Tintown Robin and also Tom Fleming who has horses for Pointing and also the track. It’s great to have their backing”. Vincent’s father Lar also owns some horses in the stable and the yard’s most notable runner, Arctic Skipper – winner of the Grade 2 Tote sponsored Fortria Chase in Navan – runs in Lar’s colours. “Boxing Along was my first winner on the track back in 2009 and he’s still here in the yard. We’ve come a long way since then and at the moment we have some good horses in the yard.”

Carrigmoorna Matt is an exciting looking prospect for the yard and with a couple of placed efforts under rules, it is hoped he will get his head in front before long. “He’s from a good family and is related to Carrigmoorna Rock who was a very good horse. He’s a lovely horse and one I’m delighted to have in the yard”. Carrigready is another horse who it could pay to follow, a runner up on its debut in a bumper at Clonmel before finishing behind the highly regarded Samcro in November, it is hoped he can pay his way and notch up a win under rules this summer.

Arctic Skipper is the flagbearer for the yard after his Graded success in November. He travelled well in the Lexus Chase at Christmas for a long way before fading a couple of furlongs from home. Since taking a break after that race he will certainly be a horse to follow when he returns to the track. A very consistent horse with either a win or a place in his 11 starts under rules, everyone at Calluna will be hoping he can progress even further this season.

Vincent with Arctic Skipper, Sean Flanagan and his father Lar after winning the Grade 2 Fortria Chase at Navan

The yard has also recently acquired a sponsor, The Equine Warehouse based in Tipperary. This is something that Vincent is very excited about. “It’s great to have the Equine Warehouse on board, they have been great to me since I began training and to have them supporting us is a great confidence boost, not just for me but for everyone in the yard. Hopefully we can repay their faith and get a few winners!”

calluna truck
The yard’s newly sponsored horse lorry

The Future at Calluna

Along with the existing facilities, Vincent is excited about adding to the yard. “Our new sand arena is under construction at the moment and when that is in place it will be great for us to get horses ready for training. We’re adding bits and pieces and developing all the time. It’s a slow process but we’re getting there! The Equine Warehouse are with us now and things are picking up for us.”

Vincent is also very active in the buying and selling of store horses, with some well known names in National Hunt racing passing through the yard over the last number of years. “I bought Milsean and sold him after he won a P2P for me. He went to Willie Mullins and finished second in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in 2015. Gordon Elliott now trains him”. Another former Pointer that Vincent trained is the JP McManus owned Edwulf, currently in training with Joseph O’Brien. Lots of horses currently in training in the UK with trainers such as; Venetia Williams, Charlie Longsdon and Jonjo O’Neill have started out in Vincent’s care and he plans to continue to invest in young horses. “I love buying store horses and developing them, if they’re good it’s difficult to leave them go but we will keep them coming in going forward into the future”.

With a growing number of horses in training and a facility that is ever developing, exciting times lay ahead for Vincent Halley and all at Calluna Stables.

Vincent and Nicky Kiely in the fast developing yard at Calluna Stables


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