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Q & A with Hannah Airey

Hannah Airey. Photo: Supplied
Hannah Airey. Photo: Supplied

Hannah Airey has recently graduated from the Irish National Stud where she completed the world-renowned breeding diploma while on the Keith & Faith Taylor Equine Scholarship awarded by the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association. Before she arrives at Trelawney to join the team for the breeding season we had a Q & A session to find out a little bit more about her and her time in Ireland.

  • What was your favourite moment of your time in Ireland? Definitely the trips we got in at the end, the whole last couple of weeks including graduation just had that feeling like it was peaking and like we were heading off to do anything and everything, there were great vibes going around.
  • What is your advice to anyone thinking of applying for the next scholarship intake? Make sure you've got a broad foundation, a little bit of everything goes a long way, and don't discount the importance of the work with the broodmares. 
  • What is your advice to the next recipient of the scholarship? a) Don't go during a pandemic b) don't treat it like a competition, there's such a variety of talent and some of the best teachers are the other students
  • Was there anything about the course or Ireland that totally surprised you? The passion with which I dislike straw. 
  • Who did you meet that inspired you? We had a lecture (read; life story) from Johnny Murtagh and I don't think I've listened so intently to anyone in my life. He is a m a z i n g-not that that does him justice at all. And as far as racing goes Jessica Harrington certainly piqued my interest, the trip to her yard was phenomenal!    
  • Were there any silver linings about completing the course during a pandemic? I think we were more invested in our work and each other rather than the outside world during the course, which will have benefited us in the long run.
  • Who was your favourite horse you met while on the course? The stallion Dragon Pulse is definitely number one, such a character, and all my favourite photos have him in them. Most of the dry mares at Maddenstown are right characters too, I'll be missing several of them when I leave, especially the ones that would pat you down for polo mints. 
  • Did the course help you make any decisions about what direction you wanted to take your career in? I suppose I've narrowed it down to a couple of areas, but there's still so much I want to try before I make a hard and fast decision. Vet is right up there in some shape, way or form, but I'm determined to learn to ride out in the mornings - it looks so fun and it's something you need to learn while you can still bounce.
  • COVID-19 put a bit of a dampener on your experience in that you couldn’t go to all the usual race meetings or farm tours, how did you keep yourselves entertained and how did you keep the 'fun factor' up? There was plenty of fun to be had, graduation ended up being a diamond in the rough and apparently worked better than most years, as we got to join all the staff in the festivities. The last six months have been a lot of walks around the farm though, 'for fun'.
  • Has it been hard being away from family and friends during the pandemic and how much are you looking forward to getting back to little 'ol NZ? It doesn't feel like I'm done here yet, but I'm keen to get home so that I can get quarantine over with asap. There's still heaps back home that I miss, but I don't lack friends and family here in Ireland and I hope I'll be back soon.  
  • What are you looking forward to about working at Trelawney? More foals! We had our last in early June, but I'm raring to go for another foaling season.
  • What has the scholarship meant to you and your career in the thoroughbred industry?  I've gained more understanding about my place in the industry, where I'm headed and I feel now like I have a leg to stand on. 
  • What did you learn off your fellow students? That it's so important to have diversity in skills and talents within a group, it would have been so boring if we were all the same, and no-one made embarrassing mistakes.