• Michelle Duffy

    HORSE RACING IRELAND INTERN

    I can recall the first time I went to a race meeting. I was about seven-years-old, in the middle of the betting ring on a bleak day at Ballybrit. The rain was beating down, but I had just put five pounds on a Noel Meade horse. I wasn't going anywhere. With that, the horse won, and racing sold itself to me.

    I am not from a racing background, but it is a hobby I share with my father. Down the years he has been involved in a couple of racehorses through syndicates with friends. By no means were they any kind of Kauto Star or Moscow Flyer, but they did enough to intensify my interest in the sport.

    I studied Politics and International Relations at University of Limerick, however in the final stages of my degree, like a lot of people I realised that despite an interest in my chosen subject, it wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was involved on the committee of the UL Horse Racing Society. Societies like that are great, as you find people with similar interests and as I've found out, they are great for networking. With that, the opportunity to do the HRI internship came up.

    I first heard about the internship when last year's interns put up their blogs on the GoRacing website, and I thought it was something I would have loved to have taken part in, so I kept an eye out for it this year, and by some accident I made it through the application and interviews.

    I am now in the eighth week of my internship. I am based in the marketing department of HRI head office. It is a small enough marketing team, but that has been to my advantage as I have been able to get involved with all aspects of marketing and there is great variety in the work I am doing. I have been able to gain valuable experience in press communications, digital marketing, sales and marketing, and customer service.

    There is no typical day in the office. I usually start by reading through the papers, monitoring coverage which is later compiled in a weekly report. From there, I work on HRI's social media platforms, creating engagement through ticket promotions, competitions and posts. Later that day, I could be doing anything from helping Joanne Burke, our press officer with media tasks and sending press releases, helping Jane Davis with preparations for Longines Irish Champions Weekend or assisting with website management for Sophie O'Hare. You are kept on your toes, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    The team in the office has been fantastic. They are always on hand to keep you busy, help you with a query and my endless array of questions is proof that they have the patience of saints.

    Going forward, I am lucky enough to be staying on with HRI to work at Longines Irish Champions Weekend in September. It has been exciting to see the progress that has been made, and how everything is coming together. I have not yet worked on a race day, so I am really looking forward to it.

    The experience I have gained so far during my internship cannot be overstated. It has allowed me to discover that communications is an area I would like to pursue further. Despite it being the area I probably need most help, I really enjoy working in the press office and Joanne has been great in guiding me.

    The highlight of my internship so far was our group trip to Kildangan Stud. Joe Osborne and Gerry Duffy very kindly spoke to us about leadership and their experience in the industry. What struck me was not just how passionate they are about the industry, but how they desire to see it succeed and how they want to be the drivers of that success. I get that same feeling from a lot of HRI staff. Horse racing is a love as much as anything else, therefore their jobs aren't just a 9-5 chore. If that is the case, then this is the kind of industry I want to make a contribution to.   

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