• Christopher Farrell


    I didn't know what to expect when I applied for the Horse Racing Ireland internship. I had heard a lot of good publicity about it from the previous year's interns and wanted to gain experience within the racing sector, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Two interviews later, I received a phone call while procrastinating studying for my final year exams in the UCD library, offering me a position at Tipperary racecourse. I had a preference for this racecourse from the start so I didn't hesitate in accepting.

    Over the years I developed an interest in the equine industry. I began breeding sport horses in secondary school and participated in the odd hunt here and there. It wasn't until I chose to major in equine science in university that I realised I wanted to work in this industry full time. A class trip to Goffs the week of the Orby sale ignited my passion for the thoroughbred industry to a new level altogether. I had always loved going racing with my father growing up but it was hearing bloodstock agent Mick Flanagan and the late Mark O'Hanlon from Irish Thoroughbred Marketing talk about their careers on our class trip that really opened my eyes to the array of opportunities available within the thoroughbred industry. As a result, I decided to fly the coop and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work for Paca Paca farm in Japan for just over five months. The skills I have learned from Dr. Harry Sweeney and Michael Buckley have proved invaluable to me and undoubtedly helped me secure my internship position.

    My internship began the day after all interns met at HRI headquarters in Ballymany and it wasn't long until Andrew Hogan, Manager of Tipperary Racecourse, had me hard at work. My marketing and research skills were quickly put to the test as I was assigned the task of promoting Ladies Day. This is one of the biggest events in our racing calendar, so it was crucial that it received the marketing and publicity it warranted.

    Having been asked the "million dollar question" in my interview on how to attract a younger crowd to the races it was great to see that attendances were up for Tipperary Racecourse for all three race meetings I worked at. Tipperary Racecourse is a boutique style racecourse where everyone is treated as a VIP! It was great to see celebrity icons, leading jockeys  and trainers happily pose for selfies with racegoers! It really adds to the friendly and unique atmosphere associated with Tipperary.   

    Another perk of working at Tipperary Racecourse is getting the opportunity to walk the track. It was interesting to see the methods used to test the "going" and the maintenance required for it to be suitable. Listening to Andrew, Perry Power and clerk of the course Paddy Graffin discuss their opinions is always entertaining anyway. Racing the following week was just as interesting as I tested out my hospitality skills on the lovely Nadia Forde who was judging Ladies Day!

    Other highlights of my internship to date include a field trip to trainer Eddie Lynam's yard in Dunshaughlin where we got to meet the mighty Sole Power who has over one million euro in race earnings. The week before we were invited to Kildangan Stud where myself and the other interns got a tour of the farm and some memorable talks from Joe Osborne, Gerry Duffy and Clodagh Kavanagh. It was here I learned of the story of President Kennedy asking a janitor who was sweeping the floor in NASA space station "what do you do?" with the janitor replying "I'm helping put a man on the moon". By creating this internship programme, I believe that Horse Racing Ireland has allowed young people to experience another dimension of the racing sector and become directly involved with their vision of direction, similar to NASA and the janitor. I would like to thank Andrew Hogan, Kate O'Sullivan and Horse Racing Ireland for this amazing opportunity which will add a strong foundation to my career within the thoroughbred industry.


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