It’s hard to believe that I only have 5 weeks left at the Irish National Stud. The past 20 weeks really have flown by, almost at the click of a finger. The stud has really slowed down now as we get near to the end of the breeding season. Foaling season has officially been completed with a total of 218 foals born this year on the farm. With Donnacha having the honours of delivering the last baby. A big thanks to our foaling managers Lauren Eisemann and Nicola Joyce for their knowledge, support and keeping us grinding when we get to 4am on a night shift and start wanting to close our eyes for a few moments.
With more time on our hands this month, Anne has organised some great visits for us students to different stud farms all around Ireland. First stop was to Ballylinch stud. We first got taken around the different parts of the farm which included their mare and foaling units, yearling yards, pre-training yards, their private gallops and finally, their team of stallions. They included Beat Hollow, Make Believe, New Bay, Fascinating Rock and their flag bearer Lope de Vega (sire of the great Santa Ana Lane and Phoenix Of Spain who I will touch on later…) Shortly after we sat down for a cup of tea and a chat with the managing director of Ballylinch stud, John O’Connor. A man who is well respected in the bloodstock industry world-wide. We discussed about genetic testing and if its improving the industry, Australian racing and how well their industry is going in regard to prize money, Irish and English prize money issues and about how we should join any organisation in the thoroughbred industry as we are the future who need to voice our opinions for fresh changes and improvement if need be. A very intriguing conversation where we absorbed a lot of beneficial knowledge.
Next visit was to one of the biggest power houses of the thoroughbred breeding industry in Coolmore. A trip I was highly looking forward to, as the calibre of their stallion roster in my opinion is the best in the world. Every facet of the company is world class. From stallions to the land, the staff and the whole operational side of the business. We got escorted straight to the stallion yard where we got shown a handful of their roster. They included, Mastercraftsman, Caravaggio, Churchill, Gleneagles, Saxon Warrior, Highland Reel, Australia, Fastnet Rock, No Nay Never, my personal favourite Camelot who was absolutely full of himself and of course the greatest of them all, Galileo. 21 years old and the sire of 71 G1 winners. We also got an exclusive tour through their own museum, which is full of rich history and every bit of silver and gold ware that they have won since the start of the operation. I could have spent all day in there with some of the interactive t.v ‘s and endless memorabilia. I highly recommend having a look if you get the chance. After all that we got invited to the local pub, McCarthy’s at Coolmores expense so we made the most of it, that’s for sure. It was a pleasure to be able to get the chance to see these top class European stallions.
Out of the wking week, I decided to pay the late entry fee to go to Newmarket for the IPCO guineas festival with a big group of the boys on the course. Purchasing a ticket a few hours before I had to leave on the Friday night. After arriving in London, we all met up and we headed on down to Newmarket racecourse. There was such a buzz when we arrived. Plenty of people, who are not only interested about the drinks but the racing and betting itself keeping the bookies happy. You can’t beat the atmosphere. The 2000 Guineas was won by Magana Grecia, trained by Aiden O’Brian. Sired by none other than the Irish National Studs own Invincible Spirit. Afterwards, the night was only young so we headed into the middle of Newmarket for a good old night out… Now I will stop that there and leave that story for a rainy day. Next morning still feeling a bit fragile, we decided to head back to watch the 1000 Guineas. But before this, Conor had organised a visit for us to Juddmonte’s Banstead Manor Farm. We were lucky enough to have them present all their stallions which included the retired Dansili, Bated Breath, Expert Eye, Oasis Dream, Kingman and the unbeaten champion wonder horse, Frankel. A big thanks to Conor for organising everything. A thrilling time and a wonderful opportunity to see these prestigious places. Back to the guineas, Hermosa by Galileo ran out an impressive all the way victory to make it a guineas double for the Ballydoyle team.
The month of May also included the Irish Guineas weekend. The 1000 guineas was won by Hermosa again and the 2000 guineas was won by Phoenix Of Spain (By Lope de Vega). This was a truly special day for the Irish National Stud as the stud took a huge gamble purchasing the stallion rights over the winter for Phoenix Of Spain. As most of the top 2yo colts were already owned by the big players, it will always be hard to be able to get the chance to make a move on a stallion prospect. A huge congratulation must go out to Cahal Beale, Patrick Diamond and Gary Swift who were influential in making the decision. A great punt that paid off. And naturally, that was celebrated by all till the early hours at the local.
A massive month that was, with another one coming up to finish off the course. Exams are in 2 weeks’ time, so it’s all heads down till then preparing for it.