Student Blog: Damien Fitton – January
9th Feb 2017
Where do I start! The time had come for my 6 month journey to Ireland. After recently working at the Magic Millions sales on the Gold Coast in 35-40 degree heat, arriving in Ireland at 6pm Saturday wearing shorts and a t-shirt I was greeted by Paul Croke one of the stallion managers, laughing at my attire.
We ventured on to the Irish National Stud where I will be staying for the duration of the course.
When I arrived I was given a tour of the stud and while touring the foaling unit I was lucky enough to witness my first foaling in Europe. Because of the climate all foaling happens in the stable boxes, where in Australia it happens outside in paddocks.
On Tuesday morning all the students had arrived on site and we started off the day with a Fire Safety Course. Learning how to use a fire extinguisher and also putting together the fire hose.
After lunch we gathered in the lecture room and introduced ourselves to our fellow students and the CEO of the Irish National Stud Mr. John Osborne. It was very interesting to hear all the different backgrounds of my fellow students. Mr. Osborne gave us a lecture on the structure of the course we are participating in. After our lecture Patrick Diamond, who was a graduate of the course, took us on a tour of the Living Legends that have retired to the Irish National Stud. I particularly liked Hurricane Fly who won 22 Grade 1 races, which is the current record for most graded wins in the world.
Wednesday morning we had our manual handling course which entailed how to correctly pick up and move heavy objects. Our instructor highlighted the potential risks if this was not done properly.
After the course we gathered into the classroom to present our first assignment in front of Patrick Diamond and Cathal Beale. The assignment entailed a few questions about the racing / breeding industry in our region and also express what areas of the industry we see ourselves pursuing in the future.
Later on that evening we attended out first conference at the Killashee Hotel in Naas. The conference was about Mare and Foal Management and the potential risks of dystocia.
On Thursday we had our first veterinary lecture with Sarah who works at the local Equine Veterinary Hospital. The lecture was based on the foaling management and re-capped some information from the conference on Wednesday night. The information provided was very helpful as the foaling season has just begun, explaining what to look for when a mare is foaling. Good signs and bad signs.
Late afternoon we received our next assignment which is based on stallions that stand in Europe.
It was all hands on deck Friday morning in the mare and foal barn. Turning the mares out to their respective paddocks so we could clean their boxes. We worked for a few hours before we set off on the Irish Stallion Trail. First we went to Kildangan Stud (Darley) where we were lucky enough to see a number of stallions. We saw stallions such as Dawn Approach, Exceed and Excel, Casamento, Slade Power, Epaulette, Hallowed Crown and Teofilo, to name a few. My favourite stallion was Epaulette. His first crop will be taking to the track this season in the Northern Hemisphere. He is great value for money at €7,000.
Our next venue was Rathasker Stud where we saw some promising future stallions such as Anjaal, Bungle Inthejungle, Es Que Love and a new stallion on their roster Coulsty.
They all paraded like professionals and I’m sure they will go on to produce future champions.
It was then time to visit the most exciting farm of all; The Aga Khan Stud. Here we saw Dual Derby winner Harzard and his father Sea The Stars, who was a champion racehorse and is making a great impression in his short time at stud.
Derrinstown Stud was our next visit where we saw 4 stallions (Awtaad, Haatef, Markaz and Tamayuz). Tamayuz was the standout for me showing off his swagger.
After a long Day on the road visiting a few studs our next stop was Dundalk Races. This is the only all weather track in Ireland. We were treated with a 3 course meal and a great night of racing and celebrated a birthday in great style.
The Stallion Trail continued Saturday morning and our first stop was Ballyhane Stud where we inspected 5 stallions. We then ventured off to Ballylinch and were lucky enough to see Lope De Vega and a few other nice stallions.
Our last destination was Coolmore. What an unbelievable set up. The facilities are top class as well as their stallions on offer. We were welcomed by all the management staff and Jason Walsh took us on a very informative tour of the stallion boxes, breeding shed etc. We will return to Coolmore later in the year and I can’t wait for a more detailed visit.
We were blown away with the last few days so far, so now we are settling into the yard routine.
Overall it has been a great first week on the Irish National Stud and I can’t wait to tell you more about it in my February Blog.