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Holly's Blog - August 2013

Hola! Buenos dias, Como Estas?

It's been awhile since my last blog due to travel and work commitments I haven't had a lot of spare time but I will do my best to fill in the past few weeks.

My last few weeks in Ireland were very enjoyable with the weather attempting to resemble some sort of summer. The last two weeks I spent at Primus, the marketing and advertising company designated to Coolmore's multinational operation. With so many stallions and in different countries it is quite a task to be able to market them all effectively. It was great to get involved in this area of the industry as it is something I want to pursue in the future.

Irish Derby
Holly and the Irish Derby Trophy
Holly and the Irish Derby Trophy

A bus full of Coolmore employees and a few extra, all travelled to The Curragh Racecourse for one of the great races on the Irish racing calendar, The Irish Derby.

The atmosphere of the day was fantastic and buzzing with excitement. The fashion was one of the most interesting aspects. Ranging from completely over the top dresses (I saw one girl who was wearing a dress of feathers; hard to imagine but if you think of a peacock that is not far off) to extremely casual. A few famous names attended the event including TV show host Jeremy Kyle and Michelle Keegan of Coronation Street fame. The feature race was won by the Jim Bolger-trained Trading Leather, a promising looking son and third group one winner for Teofilo.

Once I had finished in Ireland and prior to heading to America, I spent five days in Barcelona, Spain. It was a fantastic place to visit. The Spanish city has amazing architecture with some of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. A highlight was visiting Sagrada Familia, the church designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi, it really was incredible to see. Five days flew by, exploring the Spanish way of life; tasting tapas, sangria, visiting the beach and meeting lots of other travellers. I picked up some new Spanish words and developed a desire to explore more of Spain in the future.

Taylor Made Farm
After an 8-hour flight from Dublin to Chicago and an extra hour from Chicago to Lexington, I arrived in Kentucky, the place known as the Bluegrass State and horse capital of the world.
The barns at Taylor Made
The barns at Taylor Made

Cathy Welch, who works at Taylor Made Farm in human resources, collected me from the airport (minus my luggage as it decided to spend the night in Chicago). She kindly showed me briefly around the Taylor Made farm and took me to my lovely apartment in Nicholasville where I will be residing for the next 10 weeks. Nicholasville is a great town with everything I need right at my doorstep. Lexington city is about a 20 minutes drive away and a great shopping place (to my delight) Fayette Mall is just down the road.

For my first day I was picked up nice and early by yearling manager John Hall and taken out to the Fasig Tipton July yearling sale. It was much the same as previous yearling sales I have done but with a few minor differences and systems in place.

It took me a few days to settle into the work routine on the farm but I got the hang of it. Majority of the staff on the farm speak Spanish and are from Mexico or Guatemala so it is quite amusing trying to communicate with them (improved my sign language somewhat). However the more time I spend there the more Spanish I am picking up. I am working at one of the many yearling barns which are prepping yearlings for the Saratoga and New York sale as well as several for the Keeneland September sale.

Saratoga and New York Yearling Sale

Holly with a Mineshaft yearling at Saratoga
Holly with a Mineshaft yearling at Saratoga

After a couple of weeks at the farm it was time to head to the Saratoga yearling sale in New York, a good 16- hour truck drive away. Leaving at 2pm on Thursday August 1st my work friend and I travelled on one of the big Brooke Ledge trucks with the horses from Lexington, Kentucky, to Saratoga Springs, New York. The journey was long and not overly comfortable but never-the-less was an interesting experience. The horses were well behaved and we arrived at 5.30am the following morning.

Majority of the sales staff and most of the horses are shipped in for the sale, so there was lots of meeting and greeting and catching up with familiar faces from the July sale upon arrival. The sales complex was immaculate with a classy feel to it; fitting in with the rest of the Saratoga Springs area. This is a very wealthy area and there was some of the most amazing houses to drive past on the way home. The Taylor Made team was staying in apartments at Skidmore College, a 10 minute drive from the sale complex

The next few days were used to get the horses settled in and start showing them to potential buyers. There was enough staff for each person to have their own horse to look after; meaning you are responsible for that horse until it goes through the sale ring.

Majority of my time was spent with a quirky Mineshaft filly who definitely had a mind of her own. The sale went for two nights starting at 7pm until about 10.30pm. It was a very classy sale with a great atmosphere and a high standard of dress. The prices were high and on the first night the session topper was a Dynaformer filly that sold for the high price of US $1.25million.

The sale was strong over the two days with 108 yearlings selling for a total of US $31million; at an average price of $295,000 per horse. Thirteen yearlings sold for over $500,000 with two breaking the million dollar mark. My naughty filly bounced around the sale ring and sold for $100,000 not top of the sale but well sold and a lot of fun for me.
Holly and her friend Kate at Saratoga Racecourse
Holly and her friend Kate at Saratoga Racecourse

I ended up staying for the next sale, the New York-bred sale which started a few days after the Saratoga sale. I had the pleasure of looking after a Scat Daddy filly that topped the Taylor Made draft when selling for $140,000.

The last day of the sale I had time off to go to the races at the historical Saratoga Racecourse. It is a beautiful racecourse and was the first time I had seen racing on a dirt track.

The drive back home was a long one, so I was pleased to see the sign back into Lexington. It was such a good experience and so much fun, I look forward to the Keeneland September sale in a few weeks!

Gracias por leer, mucho amor.

Holly