• Aisling Carey Fairyhouse Intern

    “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins”. These stimulating words from Benjamin Franklin were all the motivational words that I needed to apply for an internship with Horse Racing Ireland. Such a position would provide me with the opportunity to combine my passion of the equine industry with my love for marketing. It would really be the cream of my studies as I neared completion of the NUIG MSc in Digital Marketing where my thesis topic was digital marketing versus traditional marketing in the thoroughbred breeding industry.

    I grew up on our family-owned Stud, Tullaghansleek Stud, in county Westmeath. All I have ever known since I opened my eyes are horses so I am no newbie to the equine industry! I have always admired the power and pedigree of the thoroughbred horse as I worked alongside my father Tim so, during Transition Year I applied for work experience at Coolmore Stud and this exposure enthused me even more about the racing sector. Attending my local racetrack, Kilbeggan, every summer with my friends all though my primary and secondary school days were always thrilling social days out.


    Finding the opportunity to make an application for the Horse Racing Ireland internship was very important to me, as I believed it would fill the gap in my lack of knowledge of how race meetings happen from start to finish. Combining such knowledge and experience with marketing skills through the internship with Horse Racing Ireland not only made sense but also was an absolute dream job to start my career with such a renowned international organisation. I was delighted and appreciative when I was offered the position as a marketing intern at Fairyhouse Racecourse and I was ecstatic to begin!


    I could tell, from my introductory meet and greet at Horse Racing Ireland Headquarters in Newbridge followed by a phenomenal tour around the Irish National Stud, that working with Horse Racing Ireland would be an exciting placement opportunity. I have been placed with a fantastic team at Fairyhouse Racecourse and I knew from the word go that this was going to be an exciting challenge and huge learning experience for me.


    This being my first real marketing job I was nervous to begin but the warm welcome I received from Gillian Carey, Operations Manager and other staff members all eased these feelings and made it easy for me to work as a member of this close-knit and highly dedicated team. I was soon learning about all the various behind the scenes aspects of a race day which I never knew before. As a future graduate of the MSc Digital Marketing, I was keen to put the knowledge I had learned to good use. Marketing and Sales Manager, David O’Connor quickly set me up as an administrator on Fairyhouse’s different social media platforms i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Ever since, David has continued teaching me everything he knows about social media marketing. In addition, I was also taught about website maintenance, effective use of MailChimp, Digital Signage, and how to run online promotional campaigns to promote sponsorship packages. Through continued encouragement and support by the team, my creativity side has grown allowing me to produce and apply my own ideas for the teams marketing strategies. Daily, I assist with any customer queries either by phone or face to face with callers to the office. This has really developed my communication skills. On the mornings of race days, I help Administrator, Orla Aaron, to set up the various suites and the Bobbyjo Bistro, which entertains a massive crowd. The real excitement starts when the first race takes off. This is when my marketing adrenaline kicks in as I use the social platforms to provide live coverage of the race and of the horses in the parade ring both before the race begins and after in  the winners enclosure. Further, it is part of my responsibility to assist in ensuring that everything is running smoothly and that good relationships with racegoers, owners and trainers are maintained.


    The opportunities that have evolved from this internship programme have been amazing. I, along with the other interns, have been afforded the chance to further develop our knowledge of this complex and interesting industry by working with Tote at the Galway Races Festival. Galway Festival is one the biggest highlights of the year among avid racing fans like myself and I look forward to it every year.


    Looking to the future, I feel that this internship will stand to me in good stead for whatever challenges I may face.  The racing industry is invaluable not only to the Irish economy but also to Irish culture and heritage. It is with that in mind that I would like to thank Horse Racing Ireland for providing me with a gateway into an industry that continues to give me so much passion. I would really like to extend my gratitude to Peter Roe, Gillian Carey, David O’Connor, Noel Fanning, and Gordon Reilly for giving me this opportunity to join their team and for always being extremely kind and helpful when needed. The invaluable experience I have gained from my time at Fairyhouse will be a huge springboard into the world of marketing.


    Finally, I would encourage everyone with an interest in the marketing aspects of the horse racing industry to apply for this programme.  It will enable them to grow their insight into the thoroughbred industry while also developing their marketing skills. I will conclude as I started by reflecting on more advice from the great Benjamin Franklin, “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” – adherence to this concept is in my estimation why Fairyhouse Racecourse is so successful.


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