Dominic Corban reports from Ireland

10 weeks in Cheveley Park Stud went so quickly, the time just flew. I really enjoyed my time at there – I have very fond memories and I will follow their future successes as a stud farm. Special thanks to Andrew Snell and Dale Clements for making me feel so welcome and getting me involved in everything on the farm. Highlights of my time would have to be sitting up and foaling mares like Nanina, a Group 1 winning daughter of Medicean who had a nice strong Pivitol colt. I also foaled a half sister to champion sire Pivitol, Revival who is by the great Sadler's Wells.

I really enjoyed my experience in the stallion shed. John Rice was a great guy and I was most impressed with the way the shed was run – it had a very relaxed atmosphere. Also my time over at Sandwich Stud with the yearlings. I was able to look and rate all the yearlings - they really have some quality horses and I will be able to follow their careers and look over my notes in the future. Also I had the opportunity to take mares for service to other farms like Juddemonte and the National Stud and I was so lucky to see Oasis Dream and Dansili in the flesh.

I was also very fortunate to be able to go to the famous Rowley Mile Newmarket racecourse which was great to see a mile straight and some undulating ground. It takes a really good horse to win there - the final 200 metres is quite a rise and the horses really have to dig deep and find there action well.

Cheveley Park Stud had a real family feel to it which reminded me of Cambridge Stud a lot which helped me settle in a lot quicker. I really liked being a part of all aspects of the day-to-day running of the farm and participating in their high class operation.

So now I have arrived in Coolmore for the 2010 season. The original flight I was booked on to come to Ireland was cancelled so I was delayed some hours, finally landing at about 5.30pm. I got a taxi to Dublin Huston train station and took the train to Thurles where HR Manger Deirdre Coffey picked me up and took me to the legendary Coolmore. I was a bit nervous not knowing where I was going to be working and living because last year I was fortunate to be able to live on the main farm and work in the stallion barn which was great.

But Deirdre assured me Harry King was looking after me and all would be fine and that I was to report to him on Monday morning to discuss my plans for the next ten weeks.

So here I am living in a nice bungalow with two Irishmen, Bobby and Jim Carey.

5.00am Monday up and off to the new stallion boxes. Walking into the yard, the talk has already started. Duke Of Marmalade, the last great son of Danehill calls out and knows its that time - my nerves settle and I realise how much I missed these guys (Stallions) or the 'bulls' as I call them!

So I meet with Harry King who I really look up to as a Manger and the way he calls a spade a spade. I ask if I am able to work with the stallions for a few weeks then will plan what I will do after that and he agreed and said "we will have you doing more coverings with the stallions" which really got me going cause I was chomping at the bit to get this opportunity and what an opportunity it's been - just to even say I have worked in the most influential stud farm in the last two decades let alone be able to hold on to mares last season in the stallion shed and now to be able to be breeding them has been an amazing experience. I know Bruce Slade went into great detail of the running of the shed and Coolmore on his blog http://www.nzthoroughbred.co.nz/Bruces-Blog. And I first read it while I was working here at Coolmore in the 2009 season and what great detail he put into it which really got me motivated to apply for the Sunline Scholaship once I returned back to New Zealand.

A lot has changed since Bruce was in Coolmore in 2008 Season where Coolmore was at the peak of the industry then. As everybody knows the world was hit by an economic crisis and Ireland was one of the worst hit. 2009 was a year of uncertainty in the Northern Hemisphere and I was at Coolmore when it was at its lowest point. I have to say, I learnt a lot from the people at Coolmore this year on how to keep the business healthy in uncertain times and I'll have this knowledge for the rest of my life. Coolmore has certainly bounced back - you only have to look at the leading sires in Great Britain and Ireland in 2009 and let the numbers do the talking:

Stallion Totals in (Euros) Euro SW's
1. Danehill Dancer 3,560,617 20
2. Cape Cross 3,443,527 11
3. Montjeu 2,848,855 13
4. Galileo 2,747,743 21
Source www.racingpost.com, 8th Nov.

Danehill Dancer, Montjeu and Galileo are all doing it for Coolmore and 2010 has proven to be very a positive season with breeders knowing in tough times that going to the proven product is the best chance of success. To get valuable returns in the future, Coolmore has adjusted their fees to match the market and European breeders have supported them and coverings this year have been at their highest level since 2005.

Also breeders knowing that all the stallions at Coolmore are supported by John Magneir's own broodmare band gives a lot of people confidence in the industry. And even the small breeders with limited budgets can access stallions who have won Mulitple group 1 races for as low as 2000 Euro's. Previously Danhehill Dancer stood for 2000 Euros - now his fee is 'Private' and I am sure a fairy tale will repeat itself in the near future so breeders who are lucky enough to strike onto this know they have every chance when going to a Coolmore-based stallion. Even the mighty High Chaparral is at a modest 15,000 Euros this year and people have taken advantage of that and he has a great book of mares. You only have to see what he has been doing in Australia. I know a lot of breeders in New Zealand are disappointed that High Chaparral is not returning to New Zealand for the 2010 season but the breeders who supported him last season should be very positive of the value when he stood in NZ - you only have to see his AUS$88,000 fee. So breeders who were lucky enough to get a booking to him last season should achieve valuable returns in the future, as well as fillies for future breeding.

I have been fortunate in my time in Coolmore to be able to handle and breed stallions like Rock Of Gibraltar, Holy Roman Emperor, High Chaparral, Footstepsinthesand, Fastnetrock, Excellent Art. It has really been a dream come true ever since I was young and going to the stallion barn at Cambridge stud and watching Sir Tristram covering mares with Sir Patrick Hogan and Zabeel - all I ever wanted to do was handle great stallions and it is now finally happening with the thanks of chieving the Sunline International Management Course.

And everyone has been great to me during my time here. All thanks goes to all the lads in the stallion crew - they all took me under their wings and taught me a great deal with hands-on experience in the handling and breeding of stallions and the day-to-day running of the shed and management of the stallions. I have really made some friends for life, both human and stallions. I have a real soft spot for Rock Of Gibraltar. I exercise him every morning which involves 10-15 minute lunging and a 30 minute hand walk. You can really see why he was such a champion race horse once you get him warmed up and he gets into his action around the lunging ring. He just floats with so much ease and loves exercising - he may not be a super sire but he would be my favourite horse on personality and how he does his thing in the breeding shed. He will never let you down - one jump, always ready to go. I also have a real soft spot for Montjeu. He would be my favourite stallion – he's a real thinker and what he is doing at stud is unbelievable. Just this past weekend (23 May) the brilliant Fame And Glory (4c Montjeu-Gryada, by Shirley Heights) took out the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup by an amazing 7 lengths, then Jan Vermeer (Montjeu-Shadow Song, by Pennekamp) won by 1¾ lengths not even trying and looks to be a very exciting prospect for the rest of the season not to mention St Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu-Leaping Water, by Sure Blade) who is favourite for the 2010 English Derby. He is looking to have a great season ahead of him. And being over here, I was very proud to see that Cambridge Stud has Dual Group 1 Winning Sprinter and Group 2 winning Miler Tavistock (Montjeu-Upstage by Quest For Fame). Exciting times I must say - I hope he can be as good as his dad in the future.

I have also been hands on with Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer- Starlightdreams by By Black Tie Affair) who will shuttle to Windsor Park Stud for the 2010 season. My notes on the horse: "He is a European champion 2yo Dual Gr. 1 winning miler at 3, the best son of champion sire Danehill Dancer and he's from the family of Broad Brush, the champion sire in the U.S.A and Capote Champion 2yo sire in the U.S.A also won on ground from soft to fast at Group 1 Level. He won from 1200 metres to 2100 metres. His height is 16.1 ½ but I think he's 16.2 - he has plenty of strength about him - very clean bone and has very good hindquarter and has a good action - very relaxed type - think he will suit the gene pool well and winning on all types of ground really attracts me to him - once he lets down he will be a very nice stallion."

Another great point of being in the stallion barn is being able to see all the mares coming into Coolmore. I could write for days on how many group 1 winning mares or group 1 producing dams come into this place but it is great to discuss with Harry King (Manager) of their racing abilities and their conformation and physique with him. You learn so much just by listening and taking everything in. It's great and I would encourage any one who has the opportunity in this industry to apply for the Sunline International Management Scholarship. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you get to see and learn so much from great people who have the same interests of you.

I am almost half way through my Scholarship now and I am still as motivated and as excited as ever to take in as much as I can. Will be in touch again soon.
Kind Regards
Dominic Corban.

- Dominic Corban


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