Walter Haefner, founder and owner of the Moyglare Stud in Ireland, has died in Switzerland at the age of 101.
He owned and bred many top-class horses, the latest of which was Princess Highway, winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last week and now a leading fancy for the Darley Irish Oaks. His recent Curragh winner Speaking Of Which is prominent in the betting for this weekend's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
The Zurich-born businessman acquired the stud 50 years ago after a chance meeting in a Dublin hotel. Working closely with stud manager Stan Cosgrove, Haefner built one of the world's most influential operations, and his famous black, white and red colours soon became a familiar sight on the racecourse.
With Dermot Weld as his principal trainer for almost 40 years, Moyglare have enjoyed considerable success in virtually every corner of the globe, including 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.
A statement on behalf of the Haefner family and Moyglare Stud read: "The Haefner family and Moyglare Stud announce that their patriarch Walter Haefner has passed away peacefully in Switzerland.
"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.
"A consummate businessman, the horses were his escape and a corner of Ireland became his enduring passion. Haefner first came to Ireland to buy a showjumper. A delayed flight, a chance meeting in a Dublin hotel, a few Irish whiskies and he went home with an Irish stud farm. That was 1962, and Moyglare Stud was born.
"A firm believer that the strength in the pedigree comes from the quality of the broodmare, and that the ultimate test for any racehorse is racecourse competition, Haefner stuck to this doctrine throughout the stud's development.
"He acquired, often in the USA, top-class racemares such as Grenzen (ancestress of Refuse To Bend and Casual Conquest), Talking Picture (ancestress of Trusted Partner, Dress To Thrill and recent Group winner Sapphire) and Aptostar, acquired by manager Stan Cosgrove for the stud at Fasig-Tipton in 1989.
"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."