MY journey to joining the Godolphin Flying Start programme began in November 2020 when I started putting together my application. It was a challenging process, and I was forced to reflect on my career history and aims, with my foremost thought being: “These guys won’t want me, I’m too old by now and there’ll be loads better qualified than I am.”

I sat at my kitchen table wracking my brains trying to find the appropriate words to answer some searching questions and put together a cover letter and CV that justified the paper it was written on. What did I learn from experience X? “I don’t know, it was three years ago!” What skills can I bring to Godolphin Flying Start? “I’m pretty quick at mucking out, and I can ride does that count?” and the dreaded where do you see yourself in five years’ time? “If I knew the answer to that one mate, I’d be clairvoyant!”

There was also the small matter of an introductory video, 60 seconds in which I had to sum up what motivates me, my personal and professional strengths. My face was a picture when I read that! A cousin of mine works in media and she told me for the script I’d need three words per second – 180 words to sum myself up.

My housemates gleefully fired adjectives at me from across the kitchen for the next half hour or so, none of which made the final cut.

A long-suffering aunt then spent several hours behind the lens of my phone as I stumbled my way through the script I’d laboured over for weeks. Who knew it was this hard to talk about yourself?

Application portal

Finally, six weeks later the lamp ran out of midnight oil, and I hit the submit button on the application portal on the Godolphin Flying Start website. I thought to myself: “If I get an interview, I’ll be happy, at least I’ll have had a fair swing at it then and I can move on.”

A few months later sitting at my desk on a Zoom call with sweaty hands and a dry mouth I completed that interview alongside my now classmates Henry and Marcus. Afterwards I shut my laptop and thought: “Well, I won’t be hearing from them again, what a waste of time and energy, what would they want with a failed show jumper turned assistant trainer.” So began the long wait.

A few weeks passed, then, while at the Cheltenham Festival, my phone dinged with an email from Martin Larkin, with the general gist of, we are preparing for the selection board meeting and will get back to you as soon as possible, and by the way can you send me your Leaving Certificate results please. I completed my Leaving Certificate in 2012 and I was busy saddling a horse for the Pertemps, I couldn’t remember what points I got never mind what my results were.

Filing cabinet

Anyway, I did some digging a few days later, well my mother did, in a dusty old filling cabinet and found the rather unimpressive list of results and sent them off to him. I thought to myself: “Well this will make their minds up for them.”

Another week or two went by and while I was riding out one morning my phone started to ring. “Who on earth is ringing me at this hour of a Monday while I’m trying to work?!” I muttered while fumbling in my pocket.

It turned out to be Clodagh Kavanagh and the next few minutes are a bit hazy. All I really remember is hearing the words “you’re in” and a couple of months later I landed in Kildangan, once again with sweaty hands and a dry mouth and met the 11 other people I would be spending the next two years with.

Godolphin Flying Start is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that takes you around the globe and offers career-making opportunities.

You will gain access to a network of alumni worldwide, work with some of the best in the business and make 11 great friends while doing it.


I actively encourage anybody who is thinking of it to apply. Applications open on December 1st through the website. Don’t hesitate, don’t let fear hold you back.

If you look down the list of requirements and feel that you don’t tick every box that’s fine, neither did I. Remember what Samuel Beckett said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better!”

There is plenty of support and help for those who ask for it. Drop any of the Godolphin Flying Start management team or trainees an email and you’ll find them willing to do what they can. Our contact details are available on the website. Good luck!