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Lance arrives in Kentucky

After a fantastic time in Ireland it was time to start my next leg on the 2017 Sunline Scholarship.

After a 24 hour flight delay and a lost bag, I finally arrived in Kentucky America. The first thing that took me by surprise when I arrived was the heat, Kentucky was suffering from a massive heat wave, and let’s just say that coming from Ireland to a heat wave in America was going from one extreme to another.

My last stop on the Scholarship is at Taylor Made Farm. The farm  is famous for the huge amount of yearlings they consign each year for sales and is also the home of 2016 Dubai World cup winner California Chrome. Sadly when I arrived California Chrome was in quarantine, about to make his way to Chile for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season, so I was not able to see him.

One of the biggest surprises I had when I arrived at Taylor Made was the language barrier, with most of the employees been Latina and only been able to speak a little English, so I am not only learning a whole new way of prepping yearlings, I am also starting to learn a new language. I have adopted the nickname “Chicaring” which translates to little man. I am still not sure how I managed to get that nickname as I am one of the tallest people on the farm but the nickname has defiantly stuck. 

The day to day work consists of starting at 6am and the first job is to muck out all of the stalls in the barn. We then bring in all of the yearlings around 7-7:30am. The yearlings are then hand walked and bathed every day apart from Sundays.  After their bath you will spend the rest of the day grooming and doing treatments and finish work at 4pm, then I come back at 7:30pm to turn all of the yearlings out in paddocks as it is too hot during the day to keep them outside. The barn I am working in is the barn that American Pharoah was prepped in, and with Taylor Made having tours every day for the public it is one of the main attractions.

After a few weeks it was time to make my way to Saratoga New York, for the Fasig Tipton Saratoga yearling sales with a16 hour long truck drive. The work at the sales was a lot different to any other sale I have worked at before, as you are only given one horse to look after that includes grooming and showing.   It may seem like that doesn't seem that hard but after the first two days of showing, I had shown the Medaglia d’Oro colt that I was looking after 196 times. The sale itself was an experience on its own, with the sale being at night it had more of a cocktail party feel to it rather than a yearling sale. The men were dressed in suits and the women dressed in beautiful dresses and high heels. The sale itself was very strong with an average price of $339,712USD.

While in Saratoga we all had a day off before the horses for the second sale arrived. I spent my day at the races where I was able to catch up with my fellow old co worker/housemate/ very good friend Michael Mitchell. Michael has now taken his jumps career from New Zealand to America and it is great to see him having some great successes with him taking out the grade one just two weeks before I arrived in Saratoga. I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.

Myself and Michael Mitchell

Myself and Michael Mitchell

After Saratoga it was time to make my way back to the farm where we are getting ready for the Keeneland September Sale where it is all hands on deck with over 100 yearlings in prep for the sale.

In Kentucky I have been lucky enough to see some of the beautiful farms in the area and one of my highlights of America so far was that I was able to see the grave of the champion race horse Secretariat.

I also see that it is almost time for people to start applying for the 2018 International Management Scholarship and 2018 Irish National Stud Scholarship. I just wanted to take the time to say if you have passion for thoroughbred racing or breeding I would highly recommend applying.   The experience that I have gained over the last 7 months has truly been amazing, and it is truly a once in a life time experience.

Stay tuned for my next instalment.

Lance Forbes