• Mark Lynch - Navan Intern

    Swapping my saddle for slacks was made effortless, having been given the opportunity to work as a HRI Intern for the summer.  Looking back two years ago to the summer of 2014, my life was revolving solely around making it as an amateur jockey. I have held a qualified riders licence for eight years (and counting), worked for some incredibly talented trainers and ridden some fantastic horses during this time. The HRI internship has come at an optimal time in my life, as I try to gain invaluable experience from the side of the racing industry that has been somewhat unfamiliar to me.

    In February of last year, I made the conscious decision to acquire further education and thus applied for a digital marketing course in Athlone Institute of Technology. This has proved to be a decision that I have looked back on as one of my greatest achievements to date. I reached the stage where it was time to think about my future. My riding career was not going to last forever, so I had limited options. Do I try my hand at training, work as an exercise jockey or go back to college? I chose the latter and have not looked back since.

    In the HRI Internship job description it says that, ‘Interns will gain a broad working knowledge of different aspects of the industry’. This statement is pin point accurate, as I have gained experience and an insight into marketing, track maintenance, media, racecourse management and betting to name but a few. This has been an ideal opportunity for me to put my studies into practice in a real life scenario, with the added bonus of doing this through an industry that I am extremely passionate about.

    For the last five weeks, I have been based in Navan Racecourse. This has allowed me to work alongside a team that may be small in number, but contradict the saying that many hands make light work. Peter Killeen, the racecourse manager, is a very ambitious man who is forever looking forward to try and make Navan Racecourse as good as it can be for both the equine and human visitors. The effective pairing of Johanna McGarry, operations manager, and Amy Harding, operations executive, is a prime example of multi-tasking at its finest. Be it customer service or marketing, these two ladies have it covered. Donal Curtis, track maintenance foreman, has an eye for detail when it comes to how the racetrack is presented. When you spend a few weeks here you realise that this is more than just a racecourse to them, this is life itself.

    Between them, Claire Rushe and Sophie O Hare from HRI organised multiple group industry visits. We visited the Irish National Stud where we had the opportunity to see many of their stallions, all of whom looked impeccable. We had a chance to get up close and personal to the “Living Legends” that are happily spending their retirement in the pristine surroundings of the Irish National Stud. These are all horses that have contributed immensely to the racing industry.

    We were fortunate to have a chance to spend a day at Kildangan Stud, where we received presentations from Joe Osborne, Gerry Duffy and Clodagh Kavanagh. This was a chance for us to learn what their roles were within Darley, but also learn about their aspirations for the future of Darley. From the moment you drive in the impressive entrance of Kildangan Stud, you can’t help but admire the immaculate surroundings. Darley prides itself on excellence, a trait that I will certainly try and withhold myself in the future.

    Since starting in Navan Racecourse, I have experienced two race meetings. I have assisted in marketing, hospitality, track preparation and general running of the day. On non racedays, I work on updating and maintaining our many social media platforms along with our website. I have learned that in order to succeed, the finer details are key. This has been a fantastic opportunity for me to gain an insight into many aspects of the racing industry, an industry that will certainly play a vital role in my future.  

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