Student Blog from Jock Ferguson and Victoria Canessa
5th Jun 2019
Jock Ferguson (AUS) and Victoria Canessa (ARG) give you an insight into their seventeenth week here on the Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Breeding Course.
With the season starting to wind down in the last few weeks, not only have we been venturing around Ireland on various trips, students have ventured to various places on their weekends off becoming very social. On Friday the 18th of May, various students went out to the Leopardstown race meeting and it also concluded the exam week of UCD (University College of Dublin), which followed Henry, Nick and myself (Jock) venturing out on a night in Dublin to celebrate their success.
The following weekend, it was the opening of the Curragh on the Friday night, with Tracey Collings generously running “Independent Missy” under the INS Students ownership. She ran an encouraging race finishing 2nd for her maiden appearance. The following day was an exceptional day for INS, with Phoenix Of Spain taking out the 2,000 Guineas in impressive style. The following Friday we had a BBQ, to celebrate the season coming to a near close, whilst also celebrating the win of Phoenix Of Spain. This encouraged our talented Japanese vocalist Toshi to sing us a song, whilst also taking Patricia for spin on the Dance floor under the live music.
It was an eventful week at the Irish National Stud as we had the opportunity to visit some of the biggest stud farms in the world. We began our tour with Ballylinch Stud that opened up the doors to us on Tuesday morning, starting the visit with a show of some of their stallions, including New Bay, Fascinating Rock, Dream Ahead, Make Believe, and, of course, the sire of Phoenix of Spain, Lope De Vega. Declan Foy, Visiting Mares Manager, continued the tour around the facilities, showing us a couple of their best yearlings, a few mares and their foals, and their gallops. After enjoying some hot drinks, refreshments and appetizers, we had the chance to spend the afternoon talking with John O’Connor, Managing Director, about the International Thoroughbred industry while sharing his knowledge with all of us, definitely making this an invaluable experience for all of the students.
The week of visits continued with Coolmore Stud, guided by Mark Byrne, a graduate from the INS. Nine top stallions of their roster were shown to us: Mastercraftsman, Caravaggio, Gleneagles, Saxon Warrior, Churchill, Australia, Camelot, Fastnet Rock, and the one which topped the list, Galileo. Going through Coolmore’s museum gave us an insight into its beginnings and the history of Ballydoyle Racing Stable, which was started by Vincent O’Brien’s vision to create a racehorse academy back in 1950, followed by his unrelated namesake Aidan O’Brien; both earning their titles as Irish sporting legends. We concluded our visit while sharing our future plans and queries with Christy Grassick, Manager.
The last of our visits was on Thursday afternoon, where Joe Osborne, Managing Director of Godolphin Ireland, welcomed us to Kildangan Stud. We learned about the farm’s history and its purchase in 1986 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, and learned further on their decomposition process with the used straw and how they recycle it. The visit ended with a stallion show lead by Eamon Moloney, Nominations Manager. Exceed And Excel, Fast Company, Profitable, Ribchester, Shamardal, and, my personal favorite, Teofilo, were the selected ones to parade.
Before the BBQ on Friday evening, we all went to Kildare yard to learn how to inspect and evaluate mares and foals next to Martin, Farrier of the INS. After assessing three of them with him, we had to do the last one by ourselves, writing down notes based on what we saw. So, we will see how that goes!
Last but not least, on a totally personal level and to enjoy my last long weekend in Ireland, I (Vicky) decided to travel up North, to County Atrim, to tick-off from my bucket list a visit to the Giant’s Causeway, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. After a 6 hour-long walk along the walking trail from Ballintoy and running into people from the US, Canada and New Zealand, I had the pleasure to meet up with and enjoy Giant’s Causeway with David, Toshi and Adam, this being our first visit to this natural wonder, even for our own man from Derry!