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Matt's Blog - May 2011

2000 Guineas Day at Newmarket
2000 Guineas Day at Newmarket

Made It To Coolmore Ireland
22 April 2011 – 13 May 2011

The second leg of my very own fantastic journey through three magnificent countries has begun. I am still as excited as when I left New Zealand in February. Over the past ten weeks at Cheveley Park I have learnt a lot off some of the best in the thoroughbred industry, and now the amazing Sunline Scholarship has taken me to the beautiful green grass of Ireland where the world wide known stud, Coolmore is hosting me for the next ten weeks.

A very early start after an incredible send off from the friends I have made over the last ten weeks, saw me leaving Newmarket on Sunday 1st of May at 4.30am, destination Heathrow airport. As the bus departed Newmarket I thought back to what I have learnt in this magnificent town and the knowledge I have gained to take home with me to New Zealand.

I soon arrived at Heathrow airport rearing to go. Bags checked in and through customs I felt very eager to get to Ireland and watch the 1000 Guineas day unfold in a warm pub with a nice cold pint. But unfortunately my plane was delayed an hour and a half which set back my arrival in Dublin to 2.30pm. I arrived by bus to Heuston station to catch the train from Dublin to Thurles where I was picked up by Mickey, one of Coolmore studs employees.

A half an hour drive out of Thurles into the country side of County Tipperary was the dominating Coolmore stud. As I approached the stud farm there were sign posts reading 1km to Coolmore Stud which got me very excited to see where I will be living and working. With both sides of the road property of Coolmore, I could tell from the moment I saw the place that this really was a home of champions. Fresh cut grass, hedges symmetrical both sides of the road and beautiful big trees sheltering the road and paddocks had class written all over it.

Driving through the stud past the office blocks I was greeted by the legend himself in statue form. The mighty Danehill, who was watching over the entrance way of the stud and seeing me through to my accommodation in the centre of the stud called Anglims House.

At Anglims House I am living with two work colleagues, Bernie from England and Surgi from Ukraine. As I was living by myself in England it's quite nice to have some company and learning more about different countries and languages. My house is massive. The house is two stories high, four bedrooms and its own entertainment room with computers, television sets big comfortable leather couches and has recently been refurbished. Utter luxury. My bedroom is on the second story and has come with a big king size bed and my very own bathroom.

As I was in Ireland last year working for John O'Connor at Ballylinch Stud I found the Ireland Spring was the most gorgeous weather I could ask for. I got hit with a small surprise, it was absolutely poring with rain and very cold wind, and yet it did not dampen my spirit I was still overjoyed to be in this magnificent country.

Back to my last week in Newmarket, it was very eventful visiting different stud farms around England including the Royal Studs belonging to the Queen of England, Whitsbury Manor Stud and Banstead Manor Stud which is also known as Juddmonte Farms. I was escorted around the three different stud farms taking in the history and how each stud came to be. I was also shown all the stallions from each of the stud farms and was very impressed on how they all looked towards the end of a long busy season for them. Viewing proven sires such as Oasis Dream (Green Desert) standing for 85,000 pounds and Dansili (Danehill) for a fee of 65,000 pounds to seeing the up and coming sires of Europe and NZ. Including champion 3 year old sprinter in GB 2007 Sakhees Secret (Sakhee) with his first yearlings this year and also new for 2011 Showcasing (Oasis Dream) who was the fastest horse to win the Gimcrack stakes ever.

Even through the tough time with the economic climate being how it is at the moment I was pleased to see that the stallions over in England are getting the gratitude that they deserve with still plenty of top quality mares to breed to. I have noticed one thing that has hit very hard over in England is the lack of prize money for the races particularly the mid week maiden races. A lot of trainers are sending their horses to France to race for almost double the prize money; with such a short trip to France it is very easy for owners and trainers to manage.

One of the highlights of the week would have to be the 2000 Guineas race meeting at the Rowley Mile racecourse. Saturday 30th of April my friends and I all got dressed up in our best suits and the ladies in their dresses and made our way to the Rowley Mile for the first race of the day at 2.00pm. Of course with members tickets courtesy of Cheveley Park Stud, which let us go anywhere we pleased. I came very prepared, as early in the day I had made the wise purchase of the racing post and studied the fields so I was very excited to see the turnout of my picks. Throughout the day heading toward the running of the 2000 Guineas, it felt like there were more and more people arriving until you could barely move.

Race three came around very swift which was the one everyone had been waiting for, the 203rd running of The 2000 Guineas Stakes Group 1. With all 13 horses parading before me, I had to pinch myself just to make sure that this wasn't a dream and in fact I was witnessing a future stallion prospect about to take victory in such a prestigious race. One of the 13 runners was my boy Fury, not playing favourites, well maybe a little but he looked picture perfect. With his lovely grey coat gleaming in the sun and looking fit for racing, Mr Haggas had done an outstanding job with him. I had prime positioning for the race, rite on the rail at the finish line and when the horses cantered past I looked behind me to hundreds of thousands of people cheering on the runners and their jockeys. It sent shivers down my spine and a massive smile on my face.

Well what an amazing race, a one horse race the whole way, from the jump to the finish. Frankel by Coolmore's own Galileo added to his undefeated race record with overwhelmed jockey Tom Queally aboard. Frankel lead the field the whole way not to mention being 15 lengths clear by half way, and going on to win by six lengths, the second widest winning margin in the history of the race. Trainer Henry Cecil also was awarded his 25th Classic victory. I have never seen or been to a race of this standard where with two furlongs to the finish post everyone watching this phenomenal display of speed was applauding the great horse to his much deserved win. Owner of Frankel and Juddmonte Farms Prince Khalid Abdullah will have a fantastic future for the young colt with plenty of Group 1 wins to come and what will be a popular sire once retired. Congratulations to all involved with this outstanding thoroughbred.

In no way was Fury disgraced at all for his run. First start since last year against a very strong field saw the young colt come a close 5th. I was very proud of how he raced and he has a lot of potential, this year will be a big one for him and CPS, I know he will do everyone proud and I will continue to follow his racing career.

Towards the end of the race meeting I was invited to Tattersalls hospitality box by Jason Singh for a glass of refreshing champagne and a bite to eat. The view was from four floors up and over looked the whole Heath it was beautiful. I felt very privileged to be invited up. To my surprise that walked through the door later in the day were the Darley Flying Start recipients who included two fellow Kiwis, Scott Calder and Vicky Leonard. I enjoyed talking to them about the thoroughbred industry around the world and of course informing them on the fantastic scholarship I am on at the moment.

I have had a great time in England and will never forget my experience. Thank you to all involved.

Lastly I would like to pay a small tribute to the legendary sire Sadler's Wells. Sadler's Wells passed away in his paddock at Coolmore Stud, Ireland in the afternoon of the 26th of April 2011 at the age of 30 years. The son of Northern Dancer still plays a massive roll in the thoroughbred industry today with his sons, Galileo, Montjeu and High Chaparral doing such a great job at stud and high hopes for new comer to Coolmore Stud, Yeats. As a great race horse himself he passed it through his genes, from his first season at stud he had six individual Group 1 winners and was champion sire of Ireland and Britain a record number of 14 times. "We all feel privileged to be involved with such a special horse" said Coolmore Manager, Christy Grassick. As I just missed seeing the legend himself by talking to everyone involved and reading what previous Sunline Scholarship recipients, Bruce Slade and Dominic Corban said about him he was a very pleasant horse and will be missed.

In my next blog I will be writing all about what I am doing at Coolmore Stud and the facts and figures of this massive operation.

Keep well everybody,

Matt