People said it would be the best 6 months of my life, they weren't wrong.
What an experience my time has been on the Irish National Stud Breeding Course. The people I have met, horses and places I have visited will be cherished for a long time to come.
Let me recap the final month of June. It has been very quiet within the yards which has allowed Sally to be extremely busy from day to day, organising as many trips to various equine establishments as she can. We visited Ballylinch Stud in Tipperary (home to the famous Tetrarch) and Willie Mcreery’s stable at the Curragh just to mention a couple. We also had our last few assignments to complete along with studying and completing our exams.
The month of June is also a vital time within the racing Calender of Europe. Arguably the most prestigious and best racing week in the world, Royal Ascot, takes place where horses from around the globe battle it out for racing glory. It was a blessing not having to get up in the middle of the night to watch like we have to back in New Zealand. Instead we were kindly given the afternoons off the entire week to soak up the renowned event.
A couple of students were lucky enough to attend the week, Ms Sophie Devin and Mr Christian Dodd. I planned and saved to follow suit with my top hat and waistcoat but unfortunately the wallet had a rather large leak in it draining ever so rapidly into various pubs within County Kildare. It is now a personal goal of mine to one day travel back over and attend, hopefully for a reason to go and not just a leisurely trip.
The highlight of the racing week would have had to been Con Marnane’s filly, Different League upsetting the field in The Albany Stakes beating a fearsome bunch which included the strong favourite of Jessica Harrington’s, Alpha Centauri. I couldn't think of a family more deserving a Royal Ascot win. I personally congratulate you Bansha House Stables and may the big winners and large breeze up sale prices keep rolling in for many years to come!
Back on the Curragh we also had one of the biggest race meeting carnivals in Ireland for the year, The Irish Derby. I was lucky enough to share the enjoyment of the weekend with fellow NZ scholarship recipient (The Sunline International Management Scholarship) and good friend, Lance Forbes. We attended both the Friday and Saturday meetings which were I say, rather unique.
Due to the current revamp of the Curragh facilities it limited the crowd number to a mere 8,000 people attending the meetings whereas the crowds in the past would see up to 25,000+ race goers enjoying a day out at this special race course. The two kiwi lads and fellow INS students still thoroughly enjoyed our days out. A few punts went our way which was crucial to the success of the weekend as times were tough financially at the end of the course.
The Derby itself was won by none other than Aiden O’Brien with Capri for Coolmore. (Giving his sire, Galileo, his 65th individual Group 1 winner). The winner was paying 6/1 but the inside word from Lance landed us a few extra quid to celebrate the night in style. Overall, the Derby weekend was one of the most enjoyable weekends I had catching up with new and old friends. To Lance, I wish you all the best for the remainder of your time in Coolmore, Ireland and to enjoy your last leg of the trip being Taylor Made in Kentucky. I know you’ll make the most of your opportunities.
To conclude our course we had our offical Graduation, held on July the 5th. It was nice to see all the lads suited and booted with all the girls looking exceptionally stunning for the occasion. We were treated to speeches from our new CEO (Cathal Beale) and predecessor, John Osbourne. We were so fortunate to have both these mentors throughout the course.
Personally I have learnt a great amount from the pair and I thank them for their efforts they put into the student body. We were also treated to fellow students, Ian Wilson and Sophie Devin speaking on behalf of us. It was fair to say that Mr Wilson wasn’t shy of talking up a big game for his speech prior to the delivery, but boy did he deliver! As much as it hurts to admit, it was the best speech I’ve heard and even John Osbourne was the first to swallow his pride and admit he had been out staged.
There are so many thank you’s to be made for making this breeding course so special. A big thank you to all the full time staff of the INS that have mentored and helped us through the 6 months. To all the places and people we met through our stud visits and guest lectures I personally thank you. To the caterers for feeding us and to the locals of Kildare for making us feel very welcome in their town.
To Christine (Mummy) for adopting 25 young adults and treating us like her own children. You’re an absolute hero and will be thoroughly missed by all. To Patrick Diamond for being such a great asset to the students. Any queries we had, Patrick was more than happy to help out. He’s a determined, hard worker who will go very far in this industry, that I have no doubt.
To the most important person on the stud farm, Sally Carroll. The work and effort put into this course is unprecedented and it simply wouldn't be what it is without this amazing women. The care and attention to detail she puts in is like no other and with her strong connections and lovability throughout the industry, enables us to visit so many properties and to have top quality lectures each day. For all the countless hours and care you put into us this year I would like to say a huge thank you.
Finally I’d like to thank the NZTBA for selecting me for the Keith & Faith Taylor scholarship and to Trelawney and the Taylor family for sponsoring it.
I would like to wish my fellow students all the best in their future endeavours. I have full confidence that every one of you will be successful in whatever career path you choose within our industry. I know I've made life long friends over the six months spent on the Irish National Stud and am looking forward to hearing about everyone’s success over the next few years. It's goodbye for now but will see you all very soon.
To the aspiring future industry leaders back in New Zealand. I couldn't recommend this amazing opportunity enough. You can ask any past student and they will tell you like they told me, “it's the best six months of your life”. The connections I've made over here and the knowledge of the Northern Hemisphere breeding and racing gathered is priceless. Feel free to contact me about any queries you may have about the breeding course.
Hope you have enjoyed reading the blogs. Catch up with you all very soon when I return to the motherland and commence duties at Trelawney Stud.
See you soon Millie!