Keith & Faith Taylor Equine Scholarship recipient George Chittick gives an update on his time at the Irish National Stud.
At the start of my last blog I mentioned we were just over half way through the season and there had been 187 foals born here at the Irish National Stud.
Just over a month later there have now been 313 foals born here and only six to go in the Sun Chariot foaling unit.
Another jam packed busy month has passed full of working, lectures, learning, adventures and plenty of fun. Time has absolutely flown by and it is strange to think I only have six weeks left here at the Irish National Stud.
Skipping back to the end of my last blog where I finished the week in Maddenstown dry mare yard from there I was moved to Blandford working with young foals that were two days to two months old.
I really enjoyed this yard because I was able to see the foals become more comfortable around people and learn the day to day tasks we complete with them. I also learned a lot and loved being able to have an influence on the foals' early stages of life.
After my week in Blandford I was back on night duty which was a huge couple of nights. Over the four nights we foaled a grand total of 19 foals with the stud's largest tally this season foaling eight in one night.
I had a ball over the four nights as there was never a dull moment there was always something to do. A highlight for me over the nights was at one stage we had two mares foaling at the same time and I was able to look after one of them while my course mate Alex Sausville and night watch manager Tina foaled their mare then she raced to help me foal the mare I was tending to.
It was a crazy couple of hours but we managed to get through in one piece with two new healthy foals.
After my great week on nights I then went back into Sun Chariot foaling unit where I spent the next two weeks caring for the foals that were born the previous nights and also keeping an eye on all the mares for any day foalings.
For the last two weeks I have been between Kildare and Blandford yards with older foals which I find so exciting watching them grow and teaching them as much as I can.
Besides all the work I have been doing plenty of adventuring around the various racecourses through Ireland attending the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse and getting to meet the legendary Willie Mullens.
I also took part in the Punchestown Festival which was an awesome experience with 40,000 people at the course where we saw Honeysuckle win her 12th Grade 1 in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle.
I also had an amazing day out at Leopardstown when the flat season started up which was an amazing track and I was lucky to see some amazing horses on the day.
I’d say my highlight over the last month was the first weekend in May where fellow INS students Freddie Morley, Tess O’Connor and I had the most incredible weekend in Newmarket, England. The absolutely insane weekend organised by Freddie started on Saturday morning, getting a full tour around Newmarket with Shadwell racing manager Angus Gold.
The tour started at John Gosden’s yard where we saw the horses in the trotting ring pre-work, from there we attended the gallop with William Haggas which was so interesting to hear him talk about each horse as they flew up the gallop.
The tour continued with visiting some amazing landmarks of Newmarket walking around the famous Rowley Mile, The July Course and a drive around the English National Stud.
Another incredible day followed on Monday as we started the day at Godolphin’s Newmarket base Dalham Hall Stud where we received a full tour around the stud and saw the stallions including the outstanding Dubawi.
That afternoon the day got even better with a full stallion parade at the Juddmonte Farm, Banstead Manor Stud. It was unbelievable to see the full line up there, a few to mention Kingman, Oasis Dream and the champion Frankel.
I am still buzzing from this day and the opportunity to feed Frankel carrots and see how much of a gentleman he is.
This was an absolute once in a lifetime opportunity and I still can not comprehend what we did in those couple of days. I'm also so grateful to Fred for looking after us so well.
The season here at the Irish National Stud is starting to slow as foaling wraps up and more mares continue to test positive in foal. I’m eager to see what the final month and a half has to bring as I prepare for the final exams and finish the last few assignments, might make time for a cheeky pint as well.