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Bevan's Blog - June 2016

Bevan with Grace Hogan
Bevan with Grace Hogan

Bevan's first blog from Coolmore, Ireland June 2016

After a great time in Newmarket the Sunline Scholarship has brought me to the Emerald Isle and what a blast I have had so far.

As the great New Zealand band Crowded House told us kiwis 'always take the weather with you' and I have delivered Ireland with a fantastic summer reminiscent of back home.

For all the stereotypes you hear of Ireland being wet and miserable all year round we have enjoyed a stellar run of weather, making it all the better to work in.

While I arrived at Coolmore expecting it to be big, I wasn't expecting the scale that it is. As I first approached towards the main farm the driver pointed out all the areas of the farm and jokingly told me Coolmore is a county in itself. He wasn't far wrong!

My first placement at Coolmore was working with mares and foals. The work is much what you would expect for the care of mares and foals, and Coolmore has high standards of care that all staff maintain.

As the days got warmer the mares and foals started living outside, coming in each day to be fed. The purpose of bringing them in to be fed is to ensure that each mare and foal is getting their fair share of feed as well as enabling staff to thoroughly check each animal.

My second weekend in Ireland coincided with the running of the Irish 1000 & 2000 Guineas. I was again lucky enough to attend both days of racing as I had done in Newmarket.

I am always at the forefront of fashion trends (cue laughs) and I was handpicked and entered into the best dressed male competition. To the disappointment of the crowd I was not elected the winner, however I have lodged a formal protest. Pictured with me is Grace Hogan of Cambridge Stud, a fellow kiwi working at Coolmore. We are standing in front of a statue of the legendary sire Nijinsky.

The racing was brilliant with some of the best horse flesh in Europe competing. The Group 1 2000 Guineas saw the Shadwell-owned Awtaad take out the race decisively, beating English 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold.

Favourite for the Group 1 1000 Guineas for fillies was the Coolmore-owned Minding, a brilliant winner of the English 1000 Guineas. She went down narrowly to Jet Setting, a fairytale story with the winner purchased for just 12,000 guineas last October.

Minding would redeem herself in remarkable fashion in the Group 1 Oaks two weeks later. Finding trouble around the home corner, the Galileo filly was in a hopeless position but Ryan Moore eventually found a clear passage and the filly showed a great turn of foot to race to a clear victory.

Coolmore strongly encourage their young staff to build up their knowledge base for the industry and do this by holding seminars each week. I have come at the backend of the season but still got to enjoy three excellent field trips as part of these seminars.

Firstly, we were given a tour around the private farms of Coolmore where the best mares and yearlings owned by John Magnier are housed. We got to see some brilliant mares, yearlings and foals. Names recognisable to us back in the Southern Hemisphere include Sea Siren and Atlantic Jewel, two brilliant racehorses in Australia. Also here at Coolmore and reportedly doing well is golden girl of New Zealand racing Fix, a New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year winner.

The second field trip we went on was a tour of three studs in the Kildare area. We visited Gilltown Stud, the home of champion racehorse Sea the Stars, who is now making a big impression as a sire and was responsible for the recent Group 1 Derby winner Harzand.

We then visited the Irish National Stud, a picturesque farm which is the home of influential sire Invincible Spirit. The son of Green Desert has also made his mark in the Southern Hemisphere as the sire of I Am Invincible and is also the sire of Windsor Park Stud shuttler Charm Spirit.

The last stud on the tour was Darley's Kildangan Stud. Again we were lucky to see some brilliant horse flesh in the stallion barn including Shamardal and the recently retired Cape Cross. There is also a number of Australian bred and raced horses standing there including Shooting to Win, who was strapped by a fellow Te Aroha product Briar Stobie (not too bad for a small town!).

Our final field trip was a visit to Coolmore's training operation Ballydoyle from where Aidan O'Brien sent out seven Royal Ascot winners last week. I have never seen a private training facility as remarkable as Ballydoyle. There are numerous gallops each with a specific purpose. One gallop replicates the final turn at Epsom where the Derby is run. The thought put into the development of the place is extraordinary with no stone left unturned.

It is easy to see why so many winners are turned out each year by Ballydoyle considering their attention to detail, from saltwater spas down to the fact that each horse gets handwalked by a person every day, no mechanical horse walkers to be found.

In the last week I have been moved to the stallion yard. There are 15 stallions homed at the main Coolmore farm headed by the champion Galileo. The deeds of Galileo are nothing less than staggering, already the sire of over 200 stakes winners at just 18 years of age.

There isn't a stallion here without great credentials but I don't have time to talk about all of them. One stallion that is making waves in New Zealand recently is Pour Moi, the sire of the Group 1 JJ Atkins Stakes winner Sacred Elixir for Cambridge trainer Tony Pike. Pour Moi will back at Windsor Park Stud this season and is a great asset to our breeding industry.

All in all, my time in Ireland has begun with a bang. I am having a great time and once again much of that is thanks to the great people I have met along the way. I look forward to the rest of my time at Coolmore and telling a few more stories.