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Jamie's Blog - August 2012

Jamie and 4-time Ascot Gold Cup winner and Coolmore sire Yeats
Jamie and 4-time Ascot Gold Cup winner and Coolmore sire Yeats

As I look back on the last ten weeks in Ireland, there seems no better phrase to sum up my time other than living the dream! Since arriving at the beginning of May after the conclusion of the English Guineas weekend where Coolmore and Aidan O'Brien dominated proceedings taking both the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas with Camelot and Homecoming Queen respectively, Ireland has been very welcoming, the work great and the locals outstanding. Throughout this piece, I will look back and conclude on another incredible placement at Coolmore, in the heart of Co. Tipperary Ireland.

Welcome to Coolmore

I had arranged to catch up with a friend that was on an exchange at the University of Dublin, taking in some of the quality Irish Folk Music as well as sampling a few Guinness (I just can't learn to like that stuff, and everyone told me it tastes completely different in Ireland) before I boarded the train from Dublin to Thurles on Tuesday morning where I would be collected by Deidre Coffey, HR manager at Coolmore. On the half hour drive from Thurles to Fethard we spoke about the different aspects of the farm, the stallions, the mares, Ballydoyle, where I will be working and how to get the most out of my stay at Coolmore. Upon arrival Deidre escorted me to my new home for the next ten weeks at O'Donnell's, a new barn built only a few years ago with an inbuilt house, first class.

Eibhlin, who I was living with is on an apprenticeship from the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association (ITBA) so it has been interesting talking to her about the different work placements she had experienced around Ireland before she arrived at Coolmore for the majority of the breeding season. So far on her twelve-month apprenticeship she has had placements with Tattersalls Ireland, ITBA, Coolmore and has recently taken up her last placement at the Irish Equine Centre, the main laboratory in Ireland. The one-year apprenticeship has the aim of promoting young people within the industry, where they can gain more experience and contacts through the tough economic climate so they can continue to build their career. The opportunity to achieve a vast amount of experience in such a short period is highly beneficial to each person that completes the apprenticeship. Only in its second year, the first two graduates gained full time employment at the Irish Equine Centre and Derrinstown Stud, the home of promising young sire Tamayuz, from the same family as Coolmore's pride and joy, Galileo.

Coolmore Working Life

My first port of call for my stay in Ireland was spent learning as much as possible about the mares and foals that are boarding at Coolmore. Even though I had spent most of my time at Cheveley Park caring for the mares and newly born foals, there were many differences in the way each of the respective stud farms went about their day-to-day business. I was working in one of the many yards that form the indispensible boarding unit for mares and foals that Coolmore provide for their long list of clients.
Jamie with 14-time Group One winner Goldikova
Jamie with 14-time Group One winner Goldikova

Since arriving I have had the privilege of being able to handle some of world's best race and broodmares, for example Goldikova, the champion French mare who won the Breeders Cup Mile a staggering three times and in total winning fourteen group one races, with nine of those being over colts and geldings. Magnificent Style, the dam of this year's Eclipse Stakes winner Nathaniel and Irish Oaks winner Great Heavens, Helsinki, the dam of leading young sire Shamardal and the Gr.1 winning French mare Plumania to name just a handful. Putting it simply, the horseflesh I was able to handle on a daily basis working with the mares and foals were quite simply phenomenal.

After a month with the mares and foals I moved across the road from the bottom farm to the stallion yard to work with Coolmore's amazing line up of stallions. With all the other young lads working on the farm, each of them had rotated through the covering shed at some stage during the season so with my limited experience, all the stallion lads helped me in everyway possible learning the ropes. I spent most of my time holding mares in the breeding shed in the morning when both sheds were operating, but in the afternoon I got the opportunity to put Dylan Thomas and Mastercraftsman up, which was completely new to me and hopefully something that I will be able to do more of at some stage in life.

I was also lucky enough to get down to Primus, the advertising arm of Coolmore for the last three weeks of my stay at Coolmore with fellow Kiwi Scott Calder who has been working there since graduating from the Darley Flying Start last year. Part way through finishing off a marketing postgraduate diploma, it was really interesting to see how a marketing orientated company works and something that I will be able to draw on when I find myself a real job. It was a great opportunity, you can't put a price on learning from the best in the business and that is exactly what Coolmore is. I had the privilege of being able to handle the likes of Epsom Derby winners High Chaparral, Pour Moi and Galileo, many have called him the best living stallion in the world, and perhaps he could emulate Saddler's Wells as one of the greatest of all time.

Royal Ascot

Fellow kiwi and Coolmore employee Scott Calder and I left Cork Airport, Ireland late Friday brimming with excitement to see Black Caviar come and try and show the world what she was really made of. After arriving in at 3 am and sleeping through the 60-0 All Blacks win against Ireland, (which gave me plenty of ammunition upon return to Ireland) we were on the train from Waterloo bound for Ascot.

With tails and top hats neatly fitted we arrived into the magnificent course just in time to watch the Royal Procession come through the parade ring for the last time at Royal Ascot 2012. And what a great day's racing it was, Black Caviar got the job done, all be it in controversial circumstances, but it doesn't matter if you win by an inch or half the straight, she still beat what the best the world could offer, and it's great to be able to say that I was there to see it.

It was a very successful weekend taking on the bookmakers as well, with Sea Moon trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by Khalid Abdulla winning the Hardwicke Stakes, beating the 2011 Melbourne Cup quinella of Red Cadeaux and Dunaden. Everyone at the stable held him in very high regard when I was in Newmarket and vindicated this with an impressive victory in the Tapster Stakes on his seasonal reappearance at Goodwood. I also was able to meet up with Andre Klein and his tour party of Richard and Judy Collett, Gareth and Robyn McRae and Roger Hampton after the last race for a quick drink and take in the Royal Band that played some good old English classics such as Hey Jude, ensuring that everyone sung along with the lyrics on the big screens around the course, such a great atmosphere and a truly outstanding weekend.

Irish Derby Weekend

Derby weekend is always a big occasion on the Irish racing calendar and this year was to be no exception with the unbeaten and potential superstar Camelot lining up against a moderately small field due to the testing ground conditions. Coolmore were to run Camelot in the testing conditions as they didn't want to let the sponsors, the club or the racing public down and although the conditions were testing, Camelot fought all the way to the wire to beat Born to Sea, Sea The Stars and Galileo's half brother. He has now won the Racing Post Trophy, The English 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Irish Derby and is aiming to become the first horse since the great Nijinsky to win the Triple Crown. A great days racing made even better when old Ronan Keating appeared on stage and an even better night out with Scott and a few other kiwis.

With the Irish Derby being ran as a twilight meeting on Saturday evening for the first time it made it possible to get back to Fethard on Saturday night in time for the local Clonmel show on Saturday and the locally renowned Donkey Derby. After taking out my heat and spending more time chasing the feral creature rather than riding it after ending up over the donkeys ears at the first obstacle it was onto the final where I missed the start badly and never regained any confidence, no matter how hard I kicked, the official result read, Pulled Up. A great way to end a massive weekend and an event that wont be forgotten in a hurry.
A whole new type of racing as we wait for the gate to fall in the Clonmel Show Donkey Derby.
A whole new type of racing as we wait for the gate to fall in the Clonmel Show Donkey Derby.

I can't thank everyone at Coolmore enough for having me and hopefully in the future I will be able to return for a longer period. It was great to experience all the different aspects of the wonderful farm, and I look forward to hopefully being able to put these skills into practice back in New Zealand.

Its going to be a very busy few weeks here in Lexington, I've just got home from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale (more to come in the next blog) with the long 16 hour over night haul up to the outskirts of New York and the marathon Keeneland September Yearling Sale right here in Lexington from the 11th to the 21st.

The plan is to head back to England after Keeneland and take in the Tattersalls October Sale at Newmarket with Larry Stratton and the HKJC before a wee bit of travel with some friends and home in time for Melbourne Cup Day at home and more importantly Libby's (sister) 21st before everyone wraps up University for the year. The next blog will look more closely at Taylor Made, the day-to-day duties preparation of the yearlings, a look back at the history of this truly world renowned stud farm and lastly the Saratoga Select Yearling Sale where Taylor Made was the largest consignor.

I've tried to post as often as possible while I wasn't writing the actual blog in Ireland and will endeavour to continue this as often as possible through the busy time ahead, keep an eye out at http://sunlinescholarship.blogspot.co.uk

Until next time, look after yourselves, and best of luck for the new season.

Jamie