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Irish National Stud Diploma gives perfect grounding for career with horses - Applications for NZTBA Scholarship close next week

Pear Tree Farm's Anna Miles is one a select group of NZTBA youngsters to have benefited immensely from the annual National Stud Diploma Course Scholarship.

A recipient of a scholarship to the Irish National Stud Diploma Course in 2001, Anna won the Gold Medal for the top student. She is now running a successful agistment and foaling unit near Waimate.

Originally from North Canterbury, Anna had horses and racing in-grained into her from a young age. Her grandfather, Ken Coleman, was a well-known racing identity in Canterbury. He had a number of good horses including Royal Reception.

Anna attended pony club and evented. After finishing High School she started working for John Slade at Valley Stud, Waikari, and it was John who encouraged her to apply for the NZTBA scholarships.

Anna studied hard and was duly awarded a scholarship to attend the prestigious six-month diploma course at the Irish National Stud, set in 1000 acres of land, near Kildare town, about 40 miles west of Dublin.

The course is highly regarded world-wide and attracts students from all over the world including Italy, Germany, India, South Africa and Australia.

Unlike University based programmes, the course is predominantly practical-based, designed to provide students with a hands-on approach to every aspect of horse breeding. The course starts in February each year and involves yard work during the day and lectures each evening, culminating in exams and prize giving in July. Students rotate around the yards on a weekly basis and also spend time in the stallion barn, foaling unit and laboratory.

The students work full days and then attend lectures in the evenings given by the stud staff and others involved in the bloodstock industry. The syllabus varies but generally covers all aspects of the science and art of horse breeding.

For Anna, learning the theory behind the practical work she had already been doing at Valley Stud was the best part of the course.

She also found it a great place to make lifelong friends and contacts throughout the European racing and breeding industry.

From her time at the Irish National Stud, many doors have opened. Straight out the course Anna landed a position breaking in horses in Italy for three months, before going to work for Sheik Hamdan at Derrinstown Stud in Ireland.

Anna and her husband, Michael Simpson, worked at Derrinstown for five years traveling back to to New Zealand in the Northern Hemisphere off season. Anna basically had her own yard to manage looking after the flighty maiden mares at the start of the season and mares and foals later on.

"It was a fabulous experience. We worked with some lovely people," says Anna.

On one trip home from Derrinstown, Anna and Michael shuttled and stayed in quarantine with the stallion, Silvano (Lomitas-Spirit of Eagles), from Germany to Cape Town, South Africa.

Back in NZ Anna worked for one foaling season at Waikato Stud, before managing Prebbleton Farm for John Shaw for two seasons.

It was when at John's Anna noticed a gap in the market for an agistment farm specializing in colts, foaling down mares, and breaking-in and initial pre-training, as well as traditional agistment.

About a year ago the couple took the plunge buying 30 acres on the outskirts of Waimate which they are transforming, completing re-fencing and dividing purely for horses, and building some great facilities like round yard, boxes, yards and foaling paddocks.

At this stage they have no plans of standing a stallion, but who knows what might happen in the future, Anna says.

"It's very exciting but a bit nerve-racking at the same time," Anna says of their new business.

She says none of it would have been possible without the knowledge and confidence she gained on the Irish National Stud Diploma Course.


Applicants aged between 18 and 25 are now being sought and ideally will be, or have been, employed on a thoroughbred stud in New Zealand for at least one year to attend the Irish National Stud Diploma course.

Applications are also been sought for the International Management Scholarship. First awarded in 2002, it is a fully-paid, 6-month trip for an individual to travel to England, Ireland and the United States of America to work on, and experience, the operational infrastructure, systems and management at three of the world's premier studs.

All past recipients have returned to NZ to further their careers, achieving one of the primary goals of the scholarship – to provide participants with international experience and knowledge which they can bring back to New Zealand.

Applicants for this scholarship must have an excellent general knowledge of the NZ thoroughbred industry, and hands-on experience in the agistment, health, education and management of thoroughbred horses of all ages.

Written applications for both scholarships, together with current CVs should be forwarded to the NZTBA, Private Bag 99908, Newmarket, Auckland, marked for the attention of the scholarship co-ordinator, Sally Cassels-Brown, or emailed to

- Annie Studholme


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