Plantation Stud is one of the oldest stud farms in Newmarket. It was originally developed by the Earls of Derby, who purchased the Stanley House Stable complex from the Duchess of Montrose in the late 1890s. They then established two Newmarket Stud farms adjoining the Stanley House lands at Plantation and Woodlands, to house the stallions that their Stanley House Stable would create through their racecourse achievements. The success of Plantation Stud was built on the outstanding achievements of both the 16th & 17th Earls of Derby, who were among flat racing’s most successful owner/breeders during the 20th Century. The investment in Stanley House and Plantation Stud ushered in an unprecedented era of success for the 17th Earl, during which he won multiple English Classics including the 1000 Guineas (7 times) the 2000 Guineas (twice), the Epsom Oaks (4 times), and the St Leger (6 times). However, it was the Epsom Derby, named after the legendary 12th Earl, (who himself had won the Epsom Derby in 1787, with ‘Sir Peter Teazle’), which most inspired the 17th Earl. He won the Epsom Derby 3 times, with Sansovino in 1924, the legendary Hyperion in 1933, and Watling Street in 1942. The 17th Earl stood the first of his Epsom Derby winners, Sansovino, at Plantation, and during World War II, he relocated his other great champion Hyperion from Woodlands Stud to Plantation ‘to keep him out of harm’s way’.

In 1958, Plantation Stud was sold to another of the Turf’s legendary owner/breeders, the 9th Baron Howard de Walden. His father, the 8th Baron, had chosen his famous ‘apricot’ racing colours on the advice of society painter Augustus John, who had suggested apricot was ‘an ideal contrast to the green background of the racecourse’. Lord Howard de Walden enjoyed considerable success over the next 50 years becoming one of English racing’s leading owner/breeders, with many of his champions being bred at Plantation.

Among Baron de Walden’s legendary horses bred at Plantation included Kris (by Sharpen Up), who was the dominant miler of 1979, winning 14 of his 16 races. He retired to stand at Lord Howard’s Thornton Stud in Yorkshire, but returned to Plantation in 1995, when Thornton Stud was sold. He continued to cover in Plantation until he retired in 2002. He died and was buried in Plantation in March 2004. Diesis, a full brother to Kris, was a top rated 2-year-old of 1982, who was subsequently sold to stand in Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky, where he became a successful sire. Slip Anchor (by Shirley Heights), became Lord Howard De Walden’s most famous and successful homebred, who realised his lifelong ambition by winning the 1985 Epsom Derby, under a masterful front running ride by Steve Cauthen. He was also trainer Henry Cecil’s first Derby winner. Slip Anchor retired to Plantation, where he sired multiple Group 1 winners, including the legendary mare User Friendly.

The last of the great champions bred at Plantation was Grand Lodge (by Chief Crown) foaled in 1991, who became Champion 2-year-old of 1993, and capped that success by winning the Grade 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1994. He stood successfully as a stallion at Coolmore Stud where he died prematurely at 12 in 2004. He was the sire of Sinndar, the 3-year-old champion of 2000, winner of the Epsom and Irish Derbies, and later that year, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Following Lord Howard de Walden’s death in 1999, the running of Plantation Stud was taken over by his wife, Lady Gillian. Plantation Stud was subsequently acquired by Michael O’Leary, the CEO of low-fare airline Ryanair in 2014, and the Stud has since undergone a complete refurbishment, which included refencing the entire estate, restoring all of the stallion boxes and stables, redeveloping the groom’s house, the 4 estate cottages, building a new American barn, and resurfacing all the internal farm roadways.

In 2020, a new main residence, ‘Plantation House’ was developed on the site of the old stud manager’s cottage, thereby completing the final leg of this refurbishment project. An additional 20 acres were added, bringing the Stud back to over 200 acres of land.

Under the new and energetic management of James Berney, who joined Plantation in 2019 from the National Stud, the breeding stock at Plantation has been redeveloped with over 30 high quality mares. Plantation has in recent years become a leading consigner at all the main foal and yearling sales in England and Ireland. With careful investment and skilled husbandry under the management of James Berney, and with advice/support from leading bloodstock agent, Mags O’Toole, Plantation aims to gradually restore its former glory. It hopes to successfully breed Group and Graded performers, while supporting all of the main Studs in Ireland and England.

The team at Plantation Stud is happy to welcome breeders to inspect the stock at any time by appointment with Stud manager James Berney. If we can be of assistance to breeders at any time, please don’t hesitate to contact us.