DECEMBER 17th marked the end of the UK phase for us first year Godolphin Flying Start trainees, and as we break for the holidays, I will look back on the seven weeks spent in Britain with very fond memories.
Since arriving in the British thoroughbred “headquarters” of Newmarket, we have had several opportunities to visit some of the most historic racing establishments in the country, including The Jockey Club Rooms and Weatherbys. We also spent time at Tattersalls and at several local trainers’ yards which gave us fantastic insight into the workings of a town so deeply connected with the thoroughbred.
Nothing is ever an exact science in this game. Still, having arrived in Newmarket expecting to see numerous similarities in the working practices that I am used to in America and Ireland, I can safely say the differences are fascinatingly distinct. The wide open space of Newmarket Heath and the quaint, often camouflaged yards dotted around the town are a world away from the track-focused training centres I have grown up around in America.
The racing industry and the town of Newmarket go hand-in-hand. In the dark of morning, hundreds of horses make their way to the Heath, walking the various interlinked pathways that cut through the town. Once the second or third lots are moving up the gallops and the sun begins to rise, the sight of a string of equine silhouettes is genuinely one of the most iconic “postcard” backdrops you could wish to see.
The cohesive teamwork on show is quite something to observe too. Varying trainers, their staff, and their horses, all taking turns moving onto the gallops with not a second wasted as they work through their busy morning. It is a horse racing heaven that has existed for over 350 years.
The vast and rich history of thoroughbred racing in Newmarket is apparent everywhere, but it is most impressively showcased at The Jockey Club Rooms. Our tour allowed us to learn about the history of events that created the “headquarters” we know today. It was like stepping back in time: the artefacts, paintings, and sheer essence of these rooms were magnificent and clearly illustrated the innate connection humans have with horses.
That special human-equine bond has led people like James Weatherby to influence the sport of racing and breeding. By preserving priceless industry knowledge he provided the basis of the research we still rely on today with the General Stud Book.
Since its creation in 1770, Weatherbys has grown to include a wide variety of services beyond the General Stud Book including everything from issuing racing colours and financial services for industry stakeholders, to creating catalogues for sales companies.
When wandering around the iconic grounds of Tattersalls, pedigree catalogues are glued to the hips of potential buyers. These days, the catalogues are often in digital format, but you will still see many purchasers with a traditional hard copy just like that carried around the sales grounds for decades.
It is an international affair that draws dozens of nationalities and backgrounds together for one common mission, to find the next best racehorse. In their own unique way, like-minded people with those common racing goals, all go about finding their diamond in the rough or top pedigree potential. This is what makes the industry so enticing.
The Godolphin Flying Start programme has allowed us all to have an experience of a lifetime. Our second phase in Newmarket has been an unforgettable journey, one of rich history, unique approaches to thoroughbred training and most importantly, a shared passion and love for the horses themselves. We are all looking forward to embarking on our next journey during phase three in Lexington, Kentucky.
If you, or anyone you know, loves the international horse racing and breeding industry and is passionate about learning, the Godolphin Flying Start applications are open until February 7th, 2022.
See godolphinflyingstart.com for more information on the programme.