The home where rac­ing le­gends were made


Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Property - - FRONT PAGE - Words by Katy McGuin­ness

Goffs Prop­erty: (045) 981 048 View­ing: By ap­point­ment

BRIAN Walsh had only owned Sil­ver Birch for 11 months when the geld­ing romped home to win the Ain­tree Grand Na­tional — and not in­signif­i­cant prize money of £400,000 (€474,000) — in 2007 at the age of 10. Bought at the Don­caster Sales in 2006 for 20,000 guineas, the horse, a for­mer Welsh Grand Na­tional win­ner, who was lame at the time of his pur­chase, was trained by for­mer am­a­teur rider, Gor­don El­liott, and rid­den by Robert ‘Puppy’ Power. At the time, the owner, trainer and jockey were all un­der 30. The story goes down in Ir­ish rac­ing his­tory as one of the great fairy tales.

Ten years on, and Sil­ver Birch is en­joy­ing a well-earned re­tire­ment at Rhein­dross House in Co Kil­dare, the home of Brian Walsh.

“Th­ese days he mainly minds the younger horses,” says Brian, “keep­ing them com­pany out in the pad­dock. And he’s just back from his hol­i­days — he goes to Ain­tree each year for the Pa­rade of Cham­pi­ons.”

Brian is a farmer and breeder of thor­ough­bred horses. “They’re sup­posed to be race­horses,” he says, with the wry in­to­na­tion of some­one who’s had his heart bro­ken a few times.

He built the three-storey Rhein­dross House in 2006, the same year that he made the as­tute pur­chase of Sil­ver Birch, and cur­rently has young horses com­ing through but none in train­ing. Brian plans to stay in the busi­ness lo­cally, but Rhein­dross is now on the open mar­ket for the first time and will be of in­ter­est to an eques­trian look­ing for a sub­stan­tial mod­ern home in the heart of Kil­dare horse coun­try.

Po­si­tioned within easy reach of the race cour­ses at The Cur­ragh, Naas, Fairy­house and Punchestown, and close to Der­rin­stown Stud, one of the best-known in the coun­try, Rhein­dross comes with 10.5 acres of stud-railed land, in­clud­ing three all-weather pad­docks, three turn-out fields, a nurs­ery pad­dock, and a pur­pose-built Amer­i­can barn with 10 Lod­don sta­bles.

With 594sqm of liv­ing space, Rhein­dross has plenty of room for fam­ily life and also for en­ter­tain­ing. One ap­proaches the house through elec­tric gates and past stud-railed pad­docks along a beech tree-lined av­enue flanked with lantern street lamps. In front of the house there is a park­ing cir­cle with a cen­tral foun­tain.

Double doors lead into a stone-floored in­ner porch, open­ing onto the en­trance hall with an oak stair­case that splits into two, lead­ing to the up­stairs rooms. The re­cep­tion rooms are high­ceilinged and well-pro­por­tioned; the sit­ting room has a gas-fired mar­ble fire­place and views to the front of the house and pad­docks be­yond, while the draw­ing room is equipped with an oak bar ready to be con­nected to the new owner’s beer of choice. In­ter-con­nect­ing doors lead to the din­ing room, with three sets of French doors lead­ing to the shel­tered York Stone pa­tio area to the rear of the house, ideal for eat­ing out of doors in the sum­mer months.

The kitchen looks out over the gar­den and has plenty of built-in stor­age units, a tra­di­tional black double oven Aga and a cen­tral is­land unit. Brian says that the fam­ily spends most of their time in here. There is also a well kit­ted-out util­ity room and fam­ily bath­room ad­ja­cent to the back door, while off the en­trance hall are a guest room and a dry­ing room, the lat­ter es­sen­tial as some­where to put wet coats, muddy boots, and smelly dogs (and pud­dle-splat­tered chil­dren).

Up­stairs, the master bed­room has not one but two dressing rooms, and an en-suite bath­room. Four fur­ther bed­rooms, all en-suite, are ar­ranged around the cen­tral land­ing; two have walk-in wardrobes. On the top floor, there are two more bed­rooms, with stor­age space un­der the eaves. Out­side, the gar­dens are laid out in lawns, with box-lined paths, na­tive shrub­bery and trees, all pro­vid­ing scent, colour and shel­ter, yet de­signed to be low-main­te­nance. Ad­ja­cent to the pa­tio, a paved path leads to an out­door hot tub tucked into a tall pho­tinia hedge.

A de­tached two-car garage lies to the side of the house and be­yond that is the sta­ble yard. Al­though cur­rently used as a breed­ing yard, it is suit­able for other eques­trian pur­poses.

The lo­ca­tion of Rhein­dross is equidis­tant be­tween Kil­cock and Clane, both are 6.5km away. Kil­cock has three pri­mary schools (in­clud­ing one Gaelscoil) and one sec­ondary school, while Clane has good shop­ping.

The Kil­cock Ca­noe Polo Club on the har­bour on the Royal Canal holds reg­u­lar train­ing ses­sions for boys and girls, and other ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren and teenagers in the town in­clude GAA, rugby and run­ning clubs.

There are also pony clubs for younger rid­ers in the area. Brian says that his own daugh­ter is ‘mad about horses’, which is hardly sur­pris­ing — it must be in the genes.

Rhein­dross House has plen­try of room for fam­ily life, en­ter­tain­ing — and horses. Right: Robert Power on Sil­ver Birch at the 2007 Ain­tree Grand Na­tional

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