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Matt's Blog - June 2011

So You Think led by his trainer Aiden O'Brien
So You Think led by his trainer Aiden O'Brien

So You Think's a star for Matt

Coolmore Stud and Irish 1000 Guineas
14 May 2011 – 3 June 2011


I am well settled in at Coolmore stud now, learning the different techniques and ways of going about life at such an amazing stud. Thanks to the very friendly and helpful managers and staff, I simply eased into the day to day routine in Guirys 1 yard where my Coolmore experience begins.

I would like to start this blog with a special mention to the magnificent young colt by Coolmore sire High Chaparral, So You Think. Being bred in New Zealand and from his success in Australia, I love to see this horse succeed to prove just how well we breed horses in NZ. I made sure that everyone on the stud and the racecourse Knew that he in fact is a Kiwi, not an Australian. I felt very privileged to be able to see So You Think in the flesh winning convincingly in both of his two starts at the one and only Curragh racecourse in County Kildare.

So You Think's first start in Ireland was in the Group 3 High Chaparral European Breeders Stakes. I was so excited for this day. I had one horse on my mind the whole day and being at the Curragh to see him race. I don't have words to explain it, as it was something else. Nothing in the field could get close, and he proved that 181 days without a race did not matter at all, he knows his job and does it exceptionally well winning by ten lengths over one mile and two furlongs. From this win it was clear to trainer Aiden O'Brien that he has got a fantastic horse saying that "he is an incredible specimen and it is a privilege to have him".

His second start and win was the epic day of the 1000 Guineas race meeting where So You Think was set to start in his first Group 1 in Europe. I chose to attend the famous 1000 Guineas race meeting as the card for the day was impressive, with two Group1 races and a Group 3 with plenty of first-class horses to watch.

The day started off with a bus courtesy of Coolmore to depart from the main office at 11.00am. I was one of ten staff members originating from NZ, France, Australia and England. We each had our racing post paper to study the form and choose our horses to follow for the day, also accompanied by a refreshing glass of wine to get relaxed and ready for a memorable day out. The bus arrived half an hour before the first race witch left us ample time to retrieve our tickets supplied by Coolmore and purchase a race book. It was a gorgeous day to be racing and to be once again at this famous racecourse in the heart of the Irish thoroughbred industry was priceless. I also met up with fellow Kiwi and recipient of the Keith Taylor Memorial Scholarship, Erin Brett. Erin and I had a great catch up and just as I suspected she has fallen in love with Ireland much like me.

The first big race for the day was the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup. With only a five horse field over the distance of one mile and two furlongs this was in the bag for the mighty So You Think. I could see the fear in the eyes of the four other jockeys as they clearly knew what they were coming up against pure class. In the parade ring I could see he was ready to perform, his coat was glistening in the sun and he was very relaxed walking side by side with his strapper. As they jumped out of the starting gates So You Think proved just how good a horse he really is. He stuck just in behind the pace maker until it was time and he just flew. My heart was racing as fast as he was running and as the professional horse that he is he won effortlessly. It made my day to see him execute such a well deserved win. I felt very lucky to be in the presence of such an amazing thoroughbred and the fact that he was bred in the beautiful environment of New Zealand made it that much better. Congratulations to all owners, breeders and everyone involved with this horse, past and present, he has a big future ahead of him.

One race after the Gold Cup, the Etihad Airways Group 1 1000 Guineas was set to start with a line up of fifteen, classy 3 year old fillies. Whilst looking upon the fillies in the parade area I was set to make my pick, one particular horse took my eye. A strong good bodied individual, with a massive over reach and very athletic look about her. When looking at the paper work side Misty For Me was looking even more inviting, being trained by the man himself Mr Aiden O'Brien. Owned by Mr and Mrs Magnier and by Coolmore sire Galileo out of a Storm Cat mare I knew she was the one I wanted. What an adrenalin packed race it was, I was standing grasping my bet shouting Misty for home down the long straight and she managed to get into space from fourth and push through to win by less than one length.

As the day came to an end I could not wipe the smile off my face. Such a fantastic day at the races and going home with a good day betting and seeing some fantastic horses was great. Mr and Mrs Magnier along with Mr O'Brien had an exception day, taking the two Group 1's and the Group 3 on the card. There were certainly some happy people about.

For my first three weeks working at Coolmore Stud I have been situated on the Sadler's Wells farm working in a barn named Guiry's one, also known as the Galileo Barn. It is a very special side of Coolmore, from when you enter Sadler's Wells farm through the automatic gates held up by beautiful stone walls, you enter the most peaceful place on the farm. Mares and foals graze the pasture happily under the shade of the massive trees that have stood for hundreds of years, it is such a lovely place to be. I have been working with two other Coolmore employees who took me in and showed me the ropes, yard foreman Surgi and Petra. Guiry's is the barn for most of Mr Magnier's personal mares and foals and is run by manager Niall Ryan. As Niall is very proficient with pedigrees, I took every opportunity to talk to him about the mares and finding the perfect stallion to match, he even lent me his personal pedigree book on all Coolmore owned mares. Niall was always testing me with questions about pedigrees on the mares on the farm or the mare and foal I was leading, he was very impressed on how I got a good majority right. We had visitors every week to inspect the foals from the likes of M.V Magnier (son of Mr and Mrs Magnier), Demi O'Byrne (purchases thoroughbreds for Coolmore stud) and Paul Shanahan who is Mr Magnier's right hand man and has been with him since the beginning. I was ecstatic to be able to look over the foals with these knowledgeable men and learn more into what to look for in a young, maturing thoroughbred. Going with each of them individually was great as I was able to take on board each of their different perspectives, and they were more than happy to answer all my questions and I left no stone unturned.

A typical day working in Guiry's starts at 8am. As all horses are living outside they are led in every morning to a fresh box of straw and their breakfast. Each mare and foal is fed with a 13% protein stud mix full of minerals mixed with oats, oil and a blend of powder that is made up by a horse nutritionist who tests the soil and grass to find out what the horses will be lacking.
At 9.30am we have breakfast for half an hour which gives me time to catch up on news back home and the racing for the day. After breakfast Surgi and I would tease the mares with George the pony for possible breeding before Willie the vet comes to scan. Once all the mares and foals are out we muck out the boxes and have a general tidy up ready for lunch at 1pm.
At 2pm we are back at work and most days we have visitors to have a look around the picturesque yard or see the mares and foals. Finally we check the mares and foals in the paddocks to make sure no injuries have occurred and by that time it is 5pm which is home time.

Here are a few examples of mares that graze Coolmore's lush green pasture.
Mariah's Storm – Dam of Giant's Causeway
Monevassia – Own sister to King Mambo
Lagrion – Dam of Dylan Thomas
Love Me True – Dam of Duke of Marmalade
Nell Gwyn – Own sister to Rock of Gibraltar
Lillie Langtry – Multiple Group 1 winner in foal to Galileo
For the season we also had Kind, the dam of Frankel

As you can see the pedigrees of these mares are unbelievable I feel very fortunate to be involved with such great horses.

Between human resources manager Deirdre Coffey and Niall Ryan, I have been welcomed into the Coolmore family with open arms and if I needed anything at all or wanted to do something different they would always adapt and organise it for me. I can't thank them enough for all their help to increase my knowledge in all aspects of the thoroughbred industry.

I have recently been spending time with the vets from O'Byrne and Halley veterinary clinic, including my day out with Willie Coleman. Niall had set up for me to go for a day out with Willie which was awesome. Throughout the day we covered every aspect of the thoroughbred from foal injuries to all types of scanning including ovulation check, 15 day scan, 48 day scan and sex testing, we were also scoping racehorse's and doing wind tests. Willie has been working as a vet for Coolmore for over 20 years nine of which he travelled to Coolmore Australia for the Southern Hemisphere season. Throughout the day we would compare and talk about the different techniques and ways each side of the world work to be more efficient. We stopped into the clinic for an hour and I met John Egan who introduced me to the lab. In the lab John ran me through how to tell the difference between the common bacteria fresh out of the incubator. I was also taken through surgery and shown around the yards and exercise areas, the surgery theatre was immaculate, after every procedure the theatre is completely disinfected and washed down to have no risk of any disease or bacteria lingering. All walls are completely padded for no risk of the horse injuring itself when waking up. I was very impressed in the clinic, it is a very simple layout that works very well and has the highest standard of cleanliness and safety for staff and horses. The surgeons and nurses are very professional and know the clinic and a horse like the back of their hand and show the same passion and love of their job as I do.

In conclusion of my second Coolmore blog I am happy to say my next blog will include working in the stallion yard and covering shed and about Coolmore Stud.

Keep well everybody,

Matt