The small but influential Stormhill Stud is to close, with its owner blaming the recession and hitting the “brick wall” of her local authority.
Anne Ratcliff took the decision after hearing that her planning appeal to Mid Devon Council had failed. She does not live on the site near Tiverton and had wanted to build a log cabin after losing two foals.
“It is very difficult when you are not there all the time and it has been hard to make it viable,” she told H&H.
“Prices have halved. Five years ago, a nice foal was worth £5,000-6,000. Now you can’t give them away for £2,000.”
Mrs Ratcliff started breeding racehorses in the late 1970s, then moved into eventing.
She bred Paul Tapner’s four-star ride Stormhill Michael; the four-star Stormhill Kossack, now with Gemma Tattersall; the elite coloured stallion Stormhill Mink, and the popular eventing sire Stormhill Miller.
Miller now stands at Oliver Townend and Nina Barbour’s Harthill Stud.
“It [giving up] feels very peculiar,” said Mrs Ratcliff. “But I can’t go on like this. If I were 30, I’d sit it out, but I’m getting on.”
Gemma Tattersall, who came 10th at Pau CCI**** with Stormhill Kossack in October after just four runs together, said Mrs Ratcliff had bred a lovely stamp.
“He is really genuine, incredibly straight cross-country with a good brain and is an absolute gentleman to have around.”
Mrs Ratcliff’s land and horses — including mares, youngstock and a five-year-old gelding in work — are for sale. She added that they represented “an ideal starting point for a keen young breeder”.
For more information please email Anne directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (24 January 2013)