Walter Haefner, founder and owner of the famed Moyglare Stud in Ireland, has died in Switzerland at the age of 101.
Dual Melbourne Cup winning trainer Dermot Weld was his principal trainer for almost 40 years during which Haefner’s horses were successful on the world stage.
His wins included the Belmont Stakes with Go And Go in 1990, the 2000 Guineas in 2003 with Refuse To Bend and the Tattersalls Gold Cup with Casual Conquest in 2008.
Haefner owned and bred many top-class horses, the latest of which was Princess Highway, the impressive winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last week and now a leading fancy for the Irish Oaks.
Recent Curragh winner Speaking Of Which is prominent in betting for this weekend’s Irish Derby.
The Zurich-born businessman acquired the stud 50 years ago after a chance meeting in a Dublin hotel.
Working closely from the start of the operation with stud manager Stan Cosgrove, Haefner built one of the world’s most influential operations.
His famous black, white and red colours soon became a familiar sight on the racecourse.
“The Haefner family and Moyglare Stud announce that their patriarch Walter Haefner has passed away peacefully in Switzerland, a statement from the Haefner said.
“A Zurich native, born in 1910, the 101-year-old Haefner, a gifted businessman and visionary philanthropist, was a true sportsman at heart with a deep and abiding love for the breeding of thoroughbred racehorses and the techniques and science of racing.
“Advised by his doctor at a relatively late age to take up riding, Haefner chose amateur Flat racing and pursued this with typically energetic dedication, winning the Fegentri Champion Amateur Championship in 1963.
“A consummate businessman, the horses were his escape and a corner of Ireland became his enduring passion. A great fan of Irish sport horses, Haefner first came to Ireland to buy a show-jumper.
“A delayed flight, a chance meeting in a Dublin hotel, a few Irish whiskies and Haefner went home with an Irish stud farm. That was 1962, and Moyglare Stud was born.
“The Derby was always a goal, the ultimate test, and following Speaking Of Which’s nine-length Gallinule Stakes win a few weeks ago, Haefner was excited about his prospects for the Irish Derby.
“In recent years, he was overjoyed to share his passion, Moyglare Stud, with his daughter Eva-Maria, and her children Chiara and Mischa, who are all now regular and infectiously enthusiastic supporters at Irish racecourses.
“Eva is now firmly in charge of the reins and Walter Haefner’s great love, Moyglare Stud, has a very bright future.”