By Rachel Wade
In the coming months, Godolphin Flying Start trainees will provide insight into practices experienced and observations taken on their worldwide travels. Today, first-year trainee Rachel Wade takes us through her time in Newmarket.
What does an American learn while living in the epicentre of UK racing as a Godolphin Flying Start trainee for eight weeks?
The simple answer is, a lot.
My experience in Newmarket began on the morning of Oct. 30 when I decided to go for a run. I realized quite quickly that the town was unlike any place I had ever seen. From what seemed like every other side street and alley way, horses were being ridden out into the road and my run quickly turned into more of an exploration. Following the flow of horses, I found what I recognised was Warren Hill and sat to watch the horses gallop. In this moment, I knew that my time in the UK would be special.
Fast forward to the Tattersalls December Mares Sale, where I was lucky enough to shadow Amanda Skiffington–a master in her trade. Amanda also proved an excellent teacher and I learned quite a bit about the ins and outs of such a sale. Having never attended a mare sale, my learning curve was close to vertical, but thanks to Amanda's patience I gained a working knowledge of the area. The sale seemed a vibrant and successful one, with an energetic atmosphere throughout the duration. There were many high-quality mares sold during the week, and it was a personal highlight to see the likes of Coplow (GB) and Mabs Cross (GB) parade and go through the ring.
Following the mare sale, we spent the last two and a half weeks visiting top training yards and stud farms in the mornings, with lectures from local industry professionals in the afternoons. The stud farm visits were highlighted by Cheveley Park Stud and Shadwell, where we were greeted with warm hospitality and beautiful horses. One of my favourite moments was meeting the mighty Pivotal (GB), who looked absolutely fantastic while standing patiently for photos. The group also visited the racing yards of Sir Mark Prescott, David Simcock and Amy Murphy. Not only was it interesting to see the different yards and training methods, but to learn the various business models that are implemented in each business. Sir Mark Prescott's Heath House Stable is a beautiful yard steeped with racing history and the trainer is a genius in both storytelling and explanation, which made for an unforgettable visit.
The group spent an afternoon at Morgans Evans Pretraining just outside of Newmarket. Owners Tiffany and Richard were very forthcoming with what it takes to build a business from the ground up. They gave us insight into the cost of building and maintaining a business, as well as finding the right balance in size. I really enjoyed learning how they break in the yearlings and how this early education can affect their race training over the years to come.
With Thoroughbred aftercare becoming increasingly scrutinized in current times, it was interesting to tour Godolphin's rehoming facility. I believe that this area will define the industry over the coming years and the need for similar programs will only increase. We learned about the steps of retraining the horses as well as the adoption process. The program does a wonderful job of finding the perfect match for each horse, and graduates have gone on to be successful in many different careers.
Outside of visits and lectures, the group enjoyed full-day workshops in media and law. During the media workshop, we learned on-camera interview techniques and there are no doubt a couple blossoming reporters in the group. We learned about contracts and liability during the law workshop which is certainly something that will prove useful as many of us look to start our own businesses when we graduate in 2021.
We have now commenced the third phase of Godolphin Flying Start in Kentucky. Our time in the UK was hugely valuable, with many industry professionals dedicating a lot of their time to teaching the group about their niche in the industry. The breadth of subjects covered in eight weeks gave us all a good taste of UK racing, and I truly enjoyed learning about the industry. I can't thank everyone enough for their hospitality during our time in the UK–it was an unforgettable experience.