22nd Mar 2017
Where do I start, it has been a busy month on the stud. From mares foaling to mares getting covered in the shed. It’s always exciting to wake up to news that there were foals born over night.
I was put on stallions for the first week and was lucky enough to be a part of the first cover for the season. What a thrill it was. It is a privilege to be working with one of the best stallions in Ireland Invincible Spirit.
The week entailed walking the stallions out to there respected paddocks, cleaning out their stables and also holding the mares in the shed so they could be covered.
Without picking a favourite it was very exciting to work with Free Eagle as I followed him during his career on the track.
As well as a busy week at work our class attended the Goffs February Sale where we were given an assignment which will be corrected by Marketing Director of Goffs Bloodstock Sales Joey Cullen. The task was to inspect either yearlings or Mares and pin hook one that is great value for money. It was a very good assignment because of the research involved made me learn about European horses and European racing.
After work we attend lectures in the classroom. We have been lucky enough to have guest speakers every week and the most interesting of them all would have been Lord Teddy Grimthorpe racing manage to Prince Khalid Abdullahs Juddmonte Farms. Teddy spoke to us about how he started in the industry to where he is now. After the lecture he was kind enough to give me some guidance on what I need to do before pursuing my career.
After my week on stallions I worked in the Maddenstown yard with the barren and maiden mares. It was a good routine teasing the mares in the morning and turning them out to their paddocks for the day.
It was very interesting as we had a lecture on how a mare cycles and it was good to see the change in some of the mares when we were teasing them. It was a very enjoyable week and I was learning every day.
The following week it was time to work with the mares and foals. This was by far the best week so far. Waking up at 7am to go and walk foals that are only 3 days old plus was very exciting. As it was my first time handling foals I was a little nervous to begin but after the first day I loved every minute of it. I took a particular liking to a mare called Harriet Tubman. She had a beautiful foal by Animal Kingdom who was very cheeky and made my experience one to remember.
On Monday the 20th Feb our class attended the Mark O’ Hanlon memorial quiz in the Lord Bagenal in county Carlow. We were asked to get into teams of 4 for the 10 rounds of questioning about all things racing. Our skills were tested as we were competing against some of the biggest names in both the racing and bloodstock industry. We ended up with a respectable score of 70/100. In particular, I was happy that a few questions on Australian racing came up, thankfully I knew the answers!
Outside of work it is always good to go out for a nice meal and a few beverages. In the past month I have made numerous contacts from racing yards and stud farms. We have also played football against previous Irish National Stud students.
We are entering one of the busiest months on the INS as there are a big number of mares ready to foal, so it will be all hands on deck in the main yard where all the action happens. Hopefully there is a champion among them. The course has been very enjoyable and a big learning experience. Before you know it, my March blog will be ready for you to read.
Regards, Damien Fitton