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Holly's Blog - July 2013

Holly with supersire Galileo
Holly with supersire Galileo

Coolmore Ireland

The second part of my scholarship has begun and I am now based at the reputable Coolmore Stud in Fethard, Ireland. The short journey over from England was hindered only by the size of my suitcase and all the extra belongings I had acquired from Newmarket. I was excited and slightly apprehensive to be arriving at the place known worldwide as the home of champions. I was very impressed upon arrival, the farm is beautiful, and with lots of green grass and trees, the environment shares similarities with New Zealand.

Similar to NZ: The green grass of Coolmore
Similar to NZ: The green grass of Coolmore

Holly and a grumpy looking Vintage Crop.
Holly and a grumpy looking Vintage Crop.

Our tour of the National Stud also included a look at all the stallions, including the very successful sire Invincible Spirit.

Gilltown Stud
The third and final stop for the day was Gilltown Stud, part of the large Aga Khan operation. Gilltown is extremely picturesque, a beautiful property and one of the nicest studs I have visited. The whole place is immaculately maintained and includes large bronze statues in memory of Shergar and in honour of active sire Sinndar.

Something to share that I learnt from this trip is that Shergar was a fantastic Irish racehorse, turned stallion, who in 1983 was stolen by masked gunmen that held him ransom for money. Sadly he didn't survive the ordeal and the thieves were never caught. (Google for more details - it's an interesting story!)

The stallions currently standing at Gilltown include; Dalakhani, Azamour (shuttling to NZ this year) and racehorse legend Sea The Stars. Sea The Stars who is out of the fantastic broodmare Urban Sea making him a half-brother to Coolmore super sire Galileo, was a phenomenal racehorse who in 2009 was the highest rated thoroughbred in the world and European Horse Of The Year. As a three year old his major wins included; 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, Eclipse Stakes, International Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de I' arc de Triomphe. It was an honour to see him in the flesh and give him a well deserved pat.
Holly meets Sea the Stars
Holly meets Sea the Stars

Exploring Ireland
Outside of work I have had the pleasure of visiting some different parts of Ireland. I spent a very enjoyable weekend with some friends that were over from Cambridge Stud in New Zealand. We went to Kilkenny for the night to catch up with a friend who is working at Ballylinch Stud and check out the nightlife of Kilkenny. We also went through Limerick and out to the very impressive Cliffs of Moher and a nearby beach. Ireland is a beautiful country with some great scenery (I particularly like the castles) and lucky for me the weather for the weekend was amazing (unusual).

In summary, I am enjoying experiencing Ireland and the home of champions. The end of the breeding season has arrived which means that work has slowed down; the coverings have almost finished and the stallions which shuttle are packing their bags as they head for quarantine and the Southern Hemisphere breeding season. Time is flying and in a couple of weeks I head to America for the third and final stage of the scholarship.

Life is good.

Holly
I hit the ground running in my first few weeks as the whole farm was still very busy. The barn I have been based at (Moyglass) is situated close to the covering barn and acts as a walk in yard for mares that have foals at foot. In addition to taking the mares up to the covering shed, we have a barn full of mares and foals to look after as well.

Seeing all the stallions was an enjoyable experience for me having worked with a lot of their progeny as yearlings over the past few years. The highlights and most recognisable being; Galileo, Fastnet Rock, Danehill Dancer, High Chaparral, Excelebration and the New Zealand bred legend So You Think. It was also my first time seeing the impressive looking son of Oasis Dream, Power, who will shuttle to Cambridge Stud in New Zealand this year.

Whilst being here I have also taken mares for covering to Ballylinch Stud (who currently stand Lawman, Dream Ahead and Lope De Vega) and Castlehyde stud which is also part of Coolmore.

Since being at Coolmore I have met and worked with people from so many different countries including; Ireland, Australia, Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic, Scotland, England, America, China and a few fellow Kiwis. I enjoy learning about different countries and cultures and the different experiences people have in other parts of the thoroughbred industry. Strong accents and a bit of a language barrier make for quite a diverse work environment, not to mention some odd conversations and weird looks at one another!

There are lots of Chinese students here at the moment gaining experience as part of the joint venture between Coolmore and China. From what I know the venture namely Tianjin Equine Culture City project aims to establish a world class breeding operation in China (est. cost US$2billion). The TECC project will be the first of its kind in China and marks the first Chinese Government involvement with an overseas joint venture in horse racing and breeding (Source; Breednet). Having a strong interest in international business and marketing I like talking to the Chinese students about different aspects of China and hearing what they have to say. China is a powerful country with a massive population and a lot of wealth. It will be interesting to see how this project and their industry develops over the next few years.

Irish 2000 Guineas
One of the first weekends I was here two major races on the Irish racing calendar, the 2000 and 1000 Guineas were on. I chose to go the day of the 2000 Guineas and it proved to be a very good day out. Coolmore kindly organised tickets and a bus for staff which took around 20 of us to The Curragh racecourse for the day. It was a great opportunity to get to know some of the other Coolmore staff, see some Irish racing and Irelands countryside.

The big race (2000 Guineas) was won in great by the Galileo sired colt, Magician. This was another great win for top Coolmore trainer Aidan O'Brien, and his son and jockey Joseph O'Brien.

Road Trip
Coolmore organised a road trip for the majority of the international students and seasonal workers to visit several of the other studs in Ireland.

Kildangan Stud
The first stop was Darley's Irish base Kildangan Stud. Kildangan Stud is currently home to several stallions including; Cape Cross, Sharmadal, Iffraaj, Teofilo and Helmet. After watching the stallion parade my personal favourite was the big son of Galileo, Teofilo. It was also nice to see Helmet again having always had a soft spot for him when watching him race in Australia.

Irish National Stud
The second stop on the trip was the Irish National Stud. The Irish National Stud student course has a very reputable and recognisable name worldwide so it was great to see the place so many of my friends have been to over the years. As tourism is a major source of income for the stud it is well set up; with the public being able to tour the stud, visit the Japanese gardens next door, and purchase a small reminder at the gift shop.

On our tour (considered VIP's by the lovely lady showing us around) we walked past a paddock (or field as they say over here) of retired geldings grazing happily, that was until we realised who they were. In the paddock was, Vintage Crop; first ever European horse to travel to the Melbourne Cup in Australia and win it. There was also three National Hunt legends; Moscow Flyer (winner of 27 races), Kicking King and Beef or Salmon. Their paddock was soon bombarded by 30 odd Coolmore employees who you would have thought had never seen a horse before, all eager for a pat and a photo with the champions.