• Rebecca Coonan Tote Intern

    Having lived in Kildare my whole life it was only a matter of time before I grew to love  horses and horse racing. When I first heard about the HRI Student Summer Internship I jumped at the chance to combine my agricultural studies with my love of racing. I am fascinated by the operations side of racing and have always wanted to learn more about the organisation and the running of it all. I am currently studying Food and Agri-Business Management in UCD and I feel that this internship will really complement both my agricultural and business studies. 

    I have been involved with horses for as long as I can remember as I come from a family who have always been immersed in the racing world. I competed ponies at an International level when I was younger and then moved on to eventing horses. I have been fortunate enough to represent Ireland at a National level eventing and currently compete on the Irish Student Riding Team at Student Nations Cup Competitions. We recently travelled to Spain where the team won gold, and Romania where we won silver. 

    My real love for racing began when I was 15 and started riding out at the weekends for local trainer Denis Cullen while I was still in school. I loved the challenge of learning to ride race horses and learned most of what I know from Denis. This year I started riding out part-time for Jessica Harrington and am delighted to be a part of her very successful team. She has a really lovely bunch of horses and is a phenomenal trainer which is reflected in her results. 

    I am placed with the Tote in the HRI offices in Ballymany for the 12 weeks of summer and I am loving the experience so far. We have a busy calander of summer racing with a race meeting on almost every day so as you can imagine, there is loads of work to be done.  I am working primarily with the Sales and Marketing Team within Tote and therefore have to carry out duties such as updating our website, Twitter and Facebook pages on a daily basis, and I have to go racing two or three times a week and carry out on-course surveys to gather information from racegoers and try to discover trends. We can then tailor our promotions and competitions to the favour of our customers. 

    The Galway Festival is fast approaching and we are currently busy organising on-course promotions, online promotions, race sponsorship and casual staff for the meeting. We sponsor the www.thetote.com Galway Plate and have done since 2011. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into sponsoring a race and the work is very varied as we organise everything from trophies to signage, to groom’s jackets.

    Alongside my role on the Sales and Marketing Team I also work with members from the Operations Team and the Accounts Management Team. I lend a hand with the completion of weekly Partner Account sheets and help to organise casual staff for race meetings. I really enjoy working with the larger Tote Team as I get to learn about all of the different aspects of running a business. 

    I feel privilaged to have been selected for this internship and must thank everyone in Tote for their hospitatality and patience. In particular I want to thank Joe Hennessy, my line manager, who has been brilliant throughout my time here so far. I am gaining  invaluable experience here over the course of the internship that will in no doubt assist me in my future career.