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Holly's Blog - March 2013

After much anticipation on the 20th February 2013 a very excited young lady set off on a brilliant opportunity and experience, the Sunline International Management Scholarship.

My name is Holly Ross and I am the fortunate recipient of this years' Sunline Scholarship which allows me to spend 10 weeks each at three of the world's most renowned thoroughbred operations travelling to Cheveley Park Stud in England, Coolmore Stud Ireland and Taylor Made Farm in America.

Prior to being awarded the Scholarship I studied a Bachelor of Management Studies at the University of Waikato with a double major in Marketing and International Management. I completed several yearling preparations at Cambridge Stud and in addition to this I was lucky enough to attend all the major yearling sales between Australia and New Zealand working for some remarkable consigners including; Swettenham Stud, Broadwater Thoroughbreds and Cressfield. I also spent a season at Arrowfield Stud in Australia working with mares and foals.

The Travel
After a long but enjoyable flight from Auckland via Melbourne and Dubai I arrived at London Heathrow full of anticipation for what lay ahead. Having heard a lot about Newmarket and its reputation as the origin of horse racing I was very eager to check it out.

Home sweet home at Cheveley Park Stud
Home sweet home at Cheveley Park Stud

My first morning I had a quick tour of the main Cheveley Stud courtesy of management assistant Mathew Sigsworth and met the likes of Chris Richardson (Managing Director) Andrew Snell (Stud Manager) and Dale Clements (Stud Groom) as well as several other friendly staff members.

I ventured into the town of Newmarket to get a few supplies which I found very interesting being amongst an array of English accents and strange looking buildings. The climate change was a bit of a shock and I was noticeably colder than most people on the streets as well as being rather amused that it was trying to snow on me (understanding why everything is foaled inside). I got what I need and quickly returned to the warmth of my new home Pivotal Court (pictured right) in which I share a two bedroom flat.
Cheveley Park Stud is a beautiful farm, having been there two weeks now I am familiar with its surroundings and the numerous barns it encompasses. The farm is made up of three main areas; Main Cheveley Park (stallions and mares/foals), Ashley Heath and Warren Hill (mares and foals), Sandwich (yearlings), Strawberry Hill (racehorse spelling etc).

Currently I am situated at Main Cheveley Park (pictured right) which has several different yards; Main yard, The Dairy, 12's, 24's, Bensons and Top mansion. I have been at the main yard for the past two weeks this is where the mares this side of the farm foal down. The mares that are closest to foaling are under camera surveillance in their boxes at night time, monitored by the person who is on 'sitting up duty' that night (more on this after). Once they have foaled they remain at the Main Cheveley Park yard until they are big and strong enough to be moved on to another barn to make room for the next mares to foal.
Holly with top mare Peeress
Holly with top mare Peeress

So far there have been around 15 foals which include some cracking types. A stunning Dubawi colt out of the $2.4 million mare Canda; a lovely Pivotal Filly out of the mare Phillipina who's cheeky personality adopted the stable name of 'Beans;' and a Dansili Filly out of the Group one winning mare Queens Best. I've also had the pleasure of working with an Exceed and Excel filly out of the multiple Group 1 winning mare Peeress (pictured left) and a full sister to the Cheveley Park stallion Virtual (Pivotal x Virtuous).

I have had the opportunity to check out the stallion yard and observe a few coverings. There are covering sessions three times a day morning, afternoon and night time depending on numbers and when the mares are ready. Cheveley Park Stud is home to some great stallions; Pivotal (by Polar Falcon out of Fearless Revival), Virtual (by Pivotal out of Virtuous), Kyllachy (by Pivotal out of Pretty Poppy), Medicean (Machiavellian out of Mystic Goddess, Dutch Art (Medicean out of Halland Park Lass) and Mayson (by Invincible Spirit out of Mayleaf). Mayson who won the G1 July Cup last year is new for 2013. The outstanding son of Invincible Spirit has taken well to the covering shed with his stunning good looks and high level of enthusiasm I look forward to checking out his progeny in the future. The great Isinglass stable, pictured right, is Pivotal's home.

Link: Mayson winning July Cup 2012

Daily Routine
Work begins at the very pleasant hour of 7.30am which is early enough given the cold conditions. In the main Cheveley Park yard the heavy mares are put into their respective paddocks, as are the mares and foals before vet work begins at 8am. Once vetting is completed along with any other treatments that are required the boxes are mucked out. All of the horses are stabled at night time due to the cold weather so this normally takes a couple of hours. At 10.00am we stop for half an hour for a bite to eat and a coffee to warm up before getting back into it. After breakfast the tasks that need doing that day are delegated amongst the staff; this normally includes bedding down the boxes with fresh straw and putting feed in, moving horses around and co-ordinating with the vet and farrier. This leads up until lunch time which is at 1pm for an hour. After lunch the numerous jobs are finished up and the horses are all bought back in and tucked in for the night. 4.30pm is home time!
Pictured right is

Every Tuesday and Thursday night I have been attending lectures at The National Stud along with some of the other Cheveley Park students. The lectures which go for an hour are very interesting and cover a range of different topics. So far we have discussed topics including; neonatal foal disease, the placenta and causes of late abortion (including dissecting a placenta) and examination of the mare prior to being covered. Most of the lectures are taken by local vets and offer knowledge on different areas that I can use and apply in the workplace. It's a social occasion and a good chance to meet some of the employees from other studs around Newmarket; usually followed with a bite to eat and a pint at the local pub.

Sitting up
Part of the routine at Cheveley Park is a roster set up to sit up and be on night watch roughly once every 10 days. This means starting at 8pm and working through the night until 7am. During my first night sitting up I monitored the mares close to foaling on the cameras that are set up and kept an eye on the mares that recently foaled and check the mares in the other barns. It snowed the first night I sat up which made the whole place look very picturesque, if not a little slippery the next morning.

The first day I had off I headed down to the gallops in the morning which was a remarkable sight. Strings of horses in groups of 10+ were everywhere, proudly representing some of the most well known trainers in Newmarket. I will talk more about this later after I go and observe some of the Cheveley Park horses in training.

The two weeks I have spent here so far have been amazing. I have already met some great people and learnt a lot. Cheveley Park Stud provides a great work environment and all the staff are friendly and helpful. It's great to see the differences between here and New Zealand, and the different way the same processes can be achieved. The journey has only just begun and I look forward to what the next few weeks will bring.

Smiles all round!


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