Sunline Trust Scholarship winner Sam Bergerson provides an update on his time overseas
From Goffs UK I was on the plane to Ireland, bound for Coolmore Stud. Coolmore Stud, based in Fethard, County Tipperary, is generally known to be the world’s biggest, and best, thoroughbred racehorse breeding operation. They have a long list of champions in its past and present rosters which are trained nearby in Ballydoyle stables by Aidan O’Brien. I was fortunate enough to work at Ballydoyle back in 2017 for just shy of a year and absolutely loved it. I was definitely excited to be back and see some old friends.. The Irish are just something else.
The set up at Coolmore is unbelievable and really has to be seen to be believed. The place is absolutely immaculate and really does provide the perfect environment for breeding and raising thoroughbreds. My placement began working with the mares and foals. Over the past month I have been placed to work in the barn ‘Guireys 2’ which luckily enough is about 10 metres from the front door of my house I’m staying in. Between 3 of us we have been looking after 22 mares & foals and 10 single mares, meaning we are pretty flat out most of the day. As we are beginning to approach summer, and the weather is starting to warm up (as much as it can in Ireland), they all live outside and only come in for a couple of hours each day. This is so we can monitor their feed and give treatments, along with any vetting required.
The quality of broodmares Coolmore has is extraordinary, overflowing as it is with Group 1 winners, Group 1 producers or close relations to Group 1 Thoroughbreds. For the past week I have been working in ‘Guireys 1’ where broodmares such as You’resothrilling (producer of G1 winners Gleneagles, Happily, Marvellous), Meow (Churchill & Clemmie), and Laddies Poker Two (Winter) are residing, to name a few.
As mentioned in my previous blog I was lucky enough to attend a day of the Punchestown Jumps Festival thanks to Goffs UK. The Festival ran from Tuesday to Saturday and after attending Goffs boutique sale on Thursday night I went racing on Friday. It was massive day (and then night) with around 33,000 people attending.
Flat racing kicked into gear in late April with Aidan O’Brien winning the opening English Group ones, the 2000 Guineas with Magna Grecia, and Hermosa taking out the 1000 Guineas. Coolmore organised a bus to attend the Irish equivalents which were run in the middle of May at the newly renovated Curragh racecourse. I attended the running of the 2000 Guineas on the Saturday which an 16-1 outsider - Phoenix of Spain took out the race. A terrible day on the punt but an awesome experience and a big bus trip home. Aidan O’Brien managed to take out the 1000 Guineas and Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday, with Hermosa and Magical respectively.
Aside from the horse’s it has been good to sneak in a couple of games of rugby for Fethard whilst I have been here. The day after I arrived I was roped into play with one of my good mates from Ballydoyle, Tommy. We managed to win by 3 points and a couple of weeks later went on to win the cup final. I hadn’t laced up the boots since June last year so it was fair to say that I was very sore heading into my first day of work on Monday morning. A group of us from Coolmore and Ballydoyle also play tag rugby every Tuesday night which is a good excuse to get out of the house.
I have also managed to attend my first Hurling game since arriving in Ireland. Hurling is a native Irish game which has been played for 4000 years. If you’re unsure on what is, I would definitely recommend looking it up on YouTube. It is very fast paced and more popular than Rugby and Soccer in Ireland, with massive crowd attendance throughout the country every weekend. Tipperary have a very strong Hurling team so on one of my days off we headed to Semple Stadium in Thurles to watch them smash Waterford.
Over the past month I have already experienced so much here in Ireland and look forward to see what other opportunities arise within the next month. We have the annual Coolmore BBQ coming up in June which will be a great chance to get to know others who work throughout different parts of the Stud farm and catch up with a few more people from Ballydoyle.