As the 1st of March rolled around, we were greeted with a descent dumping of snow overnight. Causing to bring the inner child out of everyone, with snowballs flying everywhere across the yards and hostel. Weather wise it’s slowly getting warmer, though I still find myself needing a few layers on most days. This month’s rotation with work around the farm yards have kept me busy which included Minoru (Mares in foal down) Blandford (Mares and Foals) both with Leona who loves to keep you on your toes with a good laugh, another round doing night foal watch, Maddenstown (Dry and/or maiden mares) With Eimear and Sun Chariot (Mares waiting to be foaled down) which happens to be run by Joe O’Connor who did the course with a fellow mate in Benji King back in 2013. I could only imagine how much fun they had back then. Absolute trouble maker’s haha.
Staff have kept us students working frantically around the farm, especially when the Cheltenham Racing Festival came around. It is held in England and is the second largest jumps meeting of the year in terms of prize money, to none other than the Grand National.
Not really a race meeting I had heard of a lot as I never really followed the National hunt scene, but boy have I embraced it and sharpened up a lot on my knowledge of it. The Irish and English Lads really get fired up about it with banter flying across the room whilst watching it. Compared to NZ/AUS jumps racing it’s on a whole different level but you can’t help but be interested in it and adds a whole new dimension to the racing industry here.
The whole stud ran a sweepstake over the 4 -day carnival which I’d rather not talk about on a personal note as I did horrendously. Our “man in the know” Niall Kelly (IRE) finished a nose ahead in the sweepstake between staff and students. Niall is no stranger to a Cheltenham winner as he used to ride one of the INS’s Living Legends HURRICANE FLY during his 5 years spent working for Willie Mullins (could explain winning sweepstake/Champion Trainer). It seems fitting that the two-time Champion Hurdle winner now gets to spend his retirement at the Irish National Stud as it was literally where the dream came alive, Hurricane Fly was foaled in the Sun Chariot yard at the Irish National Stud.
Breeding season has obviously been in full swing here which includes the legend sire that is Invincible Spirit, the sire of sires. He needs no introduction as he’s got stats on stats in the record books. The old boy (22yo) still looks in brilliant shape and is entering his 17th season in the shed. A real romantic veteran of the game, he’s still got the moves to throw a leg over and get the job done. As the flat season truly gets underway, Invincible Spirit enjoyed his tenth winner over the weekend with Invincible Army. The dual Group 3 winning colt triumphed in the Unibet Cammidge Trophy Stakes at Doncaster by 2 lengths ahead of Major Jumbo, further showing signs of inheriting his sire’s sprinting prowess.
Lectures have been keeping everyone learning and studying. The month has also included a few more guest speakers including Harry Sweeney (President of Darley Japan), Nessa Joyce (European Breeders Fund), Leo Powell (Irish Field), Bobby O’Ryan (Bloodstock Agent) and Henry Beeby (Auctioneer and CEO of Goffs). My personal favourites included Henry Beeby and Bobby O’Ryan. Both great people to listen to and ask questions. Though they talked about their respective jobs at the start of the lecture they both brought it back to the way that you can make your mark in the industry in the fact that you take every opportunity that presents its itself - big or small. And they both couldn’t stress enough about it. Constantly making connections and talking as well as listening, even if you have no idea. It’s such a fantastic industry where you can meet all these influential like-minded people which can lead you to anything and that’s what they drilled into our heads. It had got me even more motivated than I already was to keep that head down and listen, learn and keep working hard. As basic as it sounds, that’s the recipe.
Although I’d rather not finish this on a dampener, the month of march for me was marked by a terrible event that happened on the 15 March in Christchurch. Something you never would of thought would happened in our but proud little nation. I could feel from over here the pain and how much it affected everyone. Were a country full of multi-cultural groups of people from all around the world with all different belief’s and back ground’s where all cultures get along but that’s what makes our country so great. The way I’ve seen the country come together and unite as one inspired me and made me feel so proud of where I’m from. Even in Ireland the level of compassion and concern shown from the Irish people was overwhelming but very humbling. Were a small but resilient country. Make sure you take care and look after friends and family.