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Darren Flynn Blog Dec 2015

My first Blog on my time with the ITBA
Darren Flynn Blog Dec 2015

It only seems like last week that I was sitting in a canteen in Derrinstown Stud, choking on a cup of tea with Shane O’Dwyer on the other end of the phone offering me the 2015/16 apprenticeship. It seems even shorter than that I began my first placement in Forenaght Stud which really shows how much of an enjoyable learning experience I have had there.

As most people were winding down on the Sunday after a very successful Champions Weekend, I however was walking my box, tossing and turning with both nerves and excitement of what awaited me. I was kindly greeted by all the staff at Forenaghts including former apprentice and chairperson of I.T.B.A Next Generation Mary Kilduff, who offers me a cup of tea and a bowl of porridge which I decline due to my nervous stomach! Cathal Beale and Johnny Walsh, whom I would learn a lot from, gave me a tour of the farm and the impressive facilities available to them to produce quality horse’s year after year. Dermot Cantillon another gentleman and great tutor to me during my time there took time out of his busy schedule to show me his Tinnakill House farm in Co. Laois, giving me a masterclass in confirmation which was something I was keen to do.

With yearling prepping in full swing I form a partnership with a lovely sharp Intense Focus filly who is a half-sister to Gr.3 scorer Tobann. She is bound for the Orby sale and I receive informative lectures on lunging, nutrition, feet care, pasture management and basic tips on preparing a yearling for the sales to the highest standard. The Orby sale was my first yearling sale to work at and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of wisdom and knowledge who show and turn out to a high standard. I meet old faces and new faces some of which I have admired growing up and during a brief conversation with Mr Jim Bolger I try my best to get a few words out in response to the man who’s training and breeding operation I hugely admire. The Sportsman sale follows on from the Orby and I find myself lucky enough to shadow Dermot and Mary for the morning as they inspect yearlings. They point out some great tips on confirmation and movement.

As the yearling sales finished up, the attention turned to the foals of 2015. We begin hand walking them, doing a few short laps building up the number of laps week by week. As the weeks go on you can evidently see the transformation in the quality bunch available as well as my own fitness levels improving! Once again the team at Forenaghts invest their knowledge in me explaining about their foal prepping this time around. They really do have a good eye and know what every foal individually needs diet, exercise and basic health wise.

Not all of the work at Forenaghts was practical based. I was set a few projects to complete and 2 such projects included matching their mares to prospective stallions and a review of the top 5 buyers at the Arqana, Orby and Book 1 yearling sales. I found the mare matching fairly difficult to make a final decision, however it did highlight the quality stallions on offer in Ireland. Management was overall very happy with my selections and would consider using 70% of them! The review of the top 5 buyers at the major yearling sales was very interesting to see the trends and fashions by all involved. The I.T.B.A Next Generation sponsored a handicap hurdle in Punchestown. I and fellow apprentice Susan Scott were delighted to present the trophy to the winning connections of See Me Here.

The I.T.B.A hosted a pin hooking seminar with a panel made up of vet Michael Sadlier, consigner David Myerscough and bloodstock economist John Lynam. I was very keen to listen to their individual pitches and I found it to be a very beneficial night from a learning perspective as well as a profitable night as I ended up winning the raffle for a €500 voucher kindly donated by Goffs, to be used at the Goffs November sale. I put it to use and bought a lovely moving Sir Prancealot colt with my good friend Aron Crehan. Goffs were also kind enough to offer me a couple of days work bid spotting with the permission of Forenaghts. I began to enjoy it after the first couple of lots but I just don’t know if they will have me back again!

The next leg of my journey brings me to Newmarket for the foal sales. Johnny Walsh and I travel by boat and as it’s my first time in Newmarket I annoy him the whole way over with questions about the place! They have a nice bunch of foals over here and I find it difficult to choose the star on show. I don’t think I have ever been as busy as people literally que up to take a look at what is on offer, so after 5 days of this I can’t wait to see the bed! The early mornings are worth it as the foals sold reasonable well. All the team relax in the evenings by grabbing a bite to eat and a small drink. It was great to get to have a look around Newmarket and hear stories about the great horses that have passed through it. I can’t thank the team at Forenaghts and Tinnakill enough for looking after me over there, I was treated like royalty and it was an enjoyable experience.

As disappointed as I am to be leaving Forenaghts I am looking forward to starting in Coolmore in January. As aforementioned I can’t thank the team at Forenaghts and Tinnakill for investing their time, knowledge and especially patience in me over the last 4 months. I really did enjoy my time there and learned a lot in such a short space of time that I shall use to get me to where I want to be! I look forward to working with them again in the future.

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