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Q & A with Laura McNab

Recent Irish National Stud graduate Laura McNab will arrive at Trelawney Stud in the near future to work for the breeding season and yearling prep. We had a Q & A session with the Keith and Faith Taylor Equine Scholarship recipient so we could get to know her a bit better before she joins team Trelawney.

What was your favourite moment of your time in Ireland? It’s so hard to pin point a single thing! I was lucky enough to get out with the South Dublin County Hunt pre COVID-19 on one of my classmate's horses for an epic day hunting so that was definitely a highlight. Working with the stallions was unreal, it’s an opportunity I’m not sure I’d ever get again. Any foaling I got to do or experience or be involved in was also right up there. Every week I was in Kildare Yard. I’ve also just come back from a week of road tripping around the coast with some of my mates from the course and we have had the best time, it was nice to (finally) get to see a bit of Ireland!

What is your advice to anyone thinking of applying for the next scholarship intake? Go for it, and take up every opportunity that is presented to you. Try your hand at all aspects if you can (racing/breeding/sales). Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

What is your advice to the next recipient of the scholarship? Appreciate and value the hard work and dedication of everybody in the industry. Ask questions. Love the horse first and the sport second!

Was there anything about the course or Ireland that totally surprised you? How quickly and easily I picked up some of their slang (which my family back home already teases me about).

Who did you meet that inspired you? Every single one of my course mates. There are future industry leaders among them, and I’m excited to see where everyone goes. 

Were there any silver linings about completing the course during a pandemic? It was trying times for sure! But I think it definitely highlighted what a resilient bunch we were. We worked even harder to continue business as usual, and I think everyone was impressed with how quickly, easily and happily we improvised and adapted to the restrictions of COVID-19.

Who was your favourite horse you met while on the course? Ooooh this is tough, I can’t pick one!! Irish Madam and her Gleneagles colt were my favourite to foal, she was a sweetheart and he was a real character. Dragon Pulse and Invincible Spirit were my favourite stallions, so much personality between them. The filly out of champion mare Quevega by Australia is just about the sassiest little foal I’ve ever met! And Homer and Marge, the two falabella’s that lived next to the hostel, I’ll miss giving them their daily apple!

Did the course help you make any decisions about what direction you wanted to take your career in? Prior to the course, I had seriously thought about heading down a bloodstock agent path. This is still something that I’m interested in, but I also honestly think I want to be out hands on with the horses as much as possible. Managing my own stud farm would be a dream! But I also absolutely love the racing side of it so much- I’m gutted I never got to ride out here, but it’s definitely one area I’d like to get back into as soon as possible. There is still so much out there to try and experience all around the world, and I want to do as much as I can before I really settle into something!

COVID-19 put a bit of a dampener on your experience in that you couldn’t go to the usual race meetings or farm tours, did you get many opportunities for fun or did you just have to create your own on campus? We definitely managed to keep ourselves entertained for lockdown! We had a Girls Vs Boys football match (which obviously the girls won), and “Monday Club” meant we didn’t miss the local pub too much. We managed to watch the Irish 1000 and 2000 Guineas from a distance at the Curragh (and watched the finish on our phones). Everyone was really accommodating for us during lockdown, and once we could get out and about, the trips to the Curragh, Kildangan and Jessica Harrington’s racing yard were loads of fun and so interesting. Graduation night was a crazy amount of fun celebrating with all our yard foremen and staff around the stud.

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? Obviously I miss my family and friends loads and loads but the power of technology has meant they’re only a Facetime away! I definitely miss my dogs too! I’m looking forward to sharing all my stories and experiences once I get home, and putting all my new knowledge into practice. I also can’t wait to get back to the races! But at the same time, the people here are another family that I’ll miss terribly so I know I’ll be back here as soon as I can.

What are you looking forward to about working at Trelawney? Getting into a new breeding season which means a future champion could be born!

What has the scholarship meant to you and your career in the thoroughbred industry? It has meant everything to me, the course itself is world class, and the connections I have made with everyone here has given me a deeper appreciation for the industry I love. I know that the thoroughbred industry is where my passion lies, and being given this scholarship opportunity has boosted my confidence in my skills, and my place in the industry. Everyone tells me that the Irish National Stud Breeding course gives you a leg up in any area of the world, and I am so grateful that Hannah and I got to spend 6 months learning from the best of the best.

What did you learn off your fellow students? Don’t take yourself too seriously. Keep a packet of polo mints in your pocket. Work hard. Double check the bridle is on properly before you bring the mare to the teasing board. Help each other whenever you can, especially when it’s muck out day. Get the good dryer or you’ll have damp clothes for work in the morning. Watch and learn how others are doing things, it might be better than how you did it. Take a bucket of feed for the mares that are difficult to catch. Have a good music playlist. Ask for help if you need it. Be nice. Have fun!