Farewell from Damien…

Farewell from Damien…

11th Jul 2017

It’s a sad feeling writing my final blog. What an experience the Irish National Stud has provided for me. Not only learning all about the industry but the friends and connections I have met along the way.

The final month was jammed packed with visits and two of the best racing carnivals in the world, Royal Ascot and Ireland’s Irish Derby Weekend.  And we still had the final finishing touches of the course to complete, our business assignment and two exams.

A few of the visits we went on were to Ballylinch stud and Willie McCreery’s racing stable as well as watching the horses gallop around the Curragh racecourse.

Our last lectures were with John Osborne and Graham Adams from Troytown GreyAbbey in which we discussed poor performance in a racehorse and how it may be caused.

The final exams to complete the course were suddenly creeping up on us. Everything we have learnt in lectures would appear in the exam, so that meant several hours of studying to make sure I gave myself the best possible chance to get good marks.

During the final week on the course the biggest National Hunt sales were about to kick off. Hundreds of horses gathered to go under the hammer. I was lucky enough to walk around with the best bloodstock agent in Ireland Bobby O’Ryan.  Bobby has a wealth of knowledge and it was a great opportunity for me to inspect a nice bunch of horses with him.

After finishing our final exam on Friday 30th we headed off to the Curragh to witness the start of Irish Derby weekend. Celebrations were flowing all through the night and it was an early start to watch the All Blacks vs The British Lions rugby game with the Lions taking out the game in the final few minutes.

Not the result Cameron Ring was looking for as he is the sole Kiwi on the course. Hard luck mate. After the game it was time to head off to Ireland’s biggest race day, the Irish Derby. With only 6,000 spectators allowed on course because of renovations, who knew what it was going to be like?  Credit to the Turf Club for putting on an exceptional day with great racing. Not surprisingly the Derby was won by leading trainer Aidan O’Brien with Capri. The race to follow from Saturday is without a doubt the 2yo race won by Beckford. Beckford was an impressive winner in his first start and was odds on to take out the contest. The win in Saturday’s contest makes him the highest rated 2yo in Europe.

With four days left before graduation, we headed off to Dingle for two nights on a big ‘end of course’ family holiday. The weather wasn’t the best but the surfing made up for it. It was good to spend a few days with everyone before we all went our own separate ways.

blankThe day has come – ‘Graduation’. The girls were off all morning getting their hair and make up done while the boys were getting clean shaved at the barbers. Before we started we got some professional photos taken before heading up to the stallions where three students, Tommy Kehoe, Stan Begley and Craig Nolan spoke about three stallions in front of all the parents – they did a tremendous job.


We than headed off for the ceremony. All 25 students were awarded a completion certificate of ‘Horse Breeding and Management’. There were nine other awards given out on the day and the main award everyone was trying the achieve was the Gold Medal. Congratulations to Samantha Cripps on taking out the Gold medal. No one deserved it more than you. GO SAM!!


With Gold medallist, Samantha Cripps at our Graduation

After the ceremony we enjoyed a lovely dinner in the Restaurant and kicked on after to Cunningham’s for a few celebration drinks.

One last mention must go to Sally Carroll and Christine (Mummy). Without these two lovely ladies looking after all the students the course wouldn’t have been the same. Being 23 hours away from home they well and truly made me feel like I was at home.

Thanks for being on this amazing journey with me and I hope you have enjoyed reading my blogs.

Over and out,

Damien Fitton

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