After a whirlwind Karaka yearling sales and a few emotional goodbyes, I was on my way. First stop Shadwell Stud, Norfolk, UK.
As this is the first time a scholarship recipient has attended Shadwell Stud, I thought some background would be helpful:
Shadwell’s global breeding and racing enterprises involve both Thoroughbred and Arabian horses, bred and brought to race in the renowned blue and white racing silks of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It encompasses Shadwell Estate Company Limited in Britain; Shadwell Farm LLC in the USA and Derrinstown Stud in Ireland. Shadwell Estate Company in Britain incorporates six studs across Norfolk and Suffolk which include:
Nunnery Stud - The headquarters of the worldwide operation and where the entire breeding operation is controlled.
Snarehill Stud - Developed as a rehabilitation centre for the Sheikhs racehorses. State of the art facilities include treadmills, spas, swimming pools, water treadmills, Salt rooms etc.
Melton Paddocks, Salsibul Stud, Elmswell Park Stud, Beech House Stud - Home for Shadwell’s elite broodmare band and their progeny.
Nunnery Stud is currently home to 5 stallions; Muhkadram, Muhaarar, Nayef, as well as Poets Word and Tasleet, who are both new for 2019. There is definitely an excitement around the yard with Muhaarar and his 2 year olds which will be kicking off this year. He was a four-time Group One winner from 1200m-1300m and in 2015 was named Cartier Champion Sprinter. With a £30,000 service fee his yearlings managed to sell up to 925,000gns. A few people have mentioned already that “he is the most exciting stallion we’ve had for a long time”. Whilst on stallions, I feel I should definitely mention Nunnery Stud’s most famous resident - the now sadly deceased Green Desert. He was, and still is, recognised as one of most influential sires of modern times. He was a leading first season sire in 1990 and the sire with the most winners on the Flat in the UK in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1999. During his career, he has produced no less than 19 individual Gr. 1 winners and world class sires such as Oasis Dream, Cape Cross and Invincible Spirit.
The Nunnery Stud is where I have been fortunate enough to work for my time here so far. The day kicks off at 7:30am where we turn out all the mares, including some of the mares & foals (depending on the weather and the foals constitution/health), to their various paddocks from the 5 different yards scattered around the property. Obviously as the horses have spent the night indoors, there is always a few boxes to muck out. This usually gets juggled around coverings and vet work. I have been able to follow the vet around a few times and have been to plenty of coverings, on and off site, which has been great. We have a break for lunch and then return at 2pm to bring them all back in, complete any treatments, brush and feed them, along with any further tidying up that needs to be done.
It is definitely an experience learning to lead a foal on a head collar with your hand whilst the mare is on a rope in the other. This is completely different to how we do things in New Zealand where we let them follow on their own accord. Some of the little buggers seem to be pretty strong when you’re only holding them with a few fingers.
There are a plenty of ‘students’ working at Shadwell meaning plenty of young people, which is ideal. Most of them have completed a one year course at the National Stud in Newmarket prior to working here.
A definite highlight has been going with mares to coverings at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, which is the heart of Godolphin/Darley thoroughbred breeding operation. One of my coverings was late at night and fortunately enough they took me to have a quick look at the Stallion yard. It was amazing to be in the presence of so many amazing Racehorses and Sires. Horses such as Dubawi, Cracksman, Harry Angel, Golden Horn, Brazen Beau, Postponed and Iffraaj… just to name a few. I did get a photo with Dubawi (who’s 2019 service fee is £250,000!) but unfortunately my fellow employee wasn’t quite sure how to work a camera, so they were all write-offs.
I have felt incredibly lucky with the weather I have had for my first month here. Apart from a few very cold days it has been extremely sunny which obviously was very surprising for this time of the year. England even broke its record for its hottest day in February, with a small town in south west London breaking 20 degrees! I think we managed to get to 18 degrees that day.
I am about to begin work at the Snarehill Stud for the next two weeks and am looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know more about the training and rehabilitation side of things. The horses and facilities sound world class. My sister is also in England for the week so it will be nice to see a familiar face!
Until next time..
Sam Bergerson - Sunline Scholarship recipient