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Onwards and Upwards for NG Apprentices

Next Generation Apprentices
Onwards and Upwards for NG Apprentices

As part of our interview process for the internship, we were asked to submit a list of establishments within the Industry that we would like to gain experience in and give reasons why we would like to do so. This was a tough decision because you have to choose places t you think would benefit you the most rather than places where you know people and might be a bit more comfortable.

My first choice was to go to BBA Ireland. BBA Ireland provides many services to the industry which include insurance, transport and management not to mention traditional bloodstock agency services. I felt that with this variety of services, I would get a broad range of experience and knowledge from a company I believe to be “the best in the game”.

The autumn is an extremely busy period for BBA as the sales are in full swing. I was thrown right into the thick of it as Tattersalls and Goffs sales were around the corner and the catalogues had to be prepared for the agents. Richard Fitzsimons, a previous ITBA Next Generation Apprentice, was there to show me the ropes and mentor me through the process. I really enjoyed this part of it as I was constantly looking through pedigrees and quickly learning which ones were classed as “a collector’s item”. Before starting in BBA Ireland, my knowledge of pedigrees would have been very limited. I could tell you what I had out in the field at home but probably not much more. Through my experience preparing the catalogues, I have gained so much more knowledge and now can remember certain dam lines the whole way down the page. Pedigrees are a vital component in the purchasing and breeding of thoroughbreds and to have gained the knowledge that I have over the last few months, I am very grateful.

During the Goffs Orby and Sportsman sales, I was in the BBA barn end writing up catalogues and also providing hospitality to the BBA agents and their clients. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. At times I was a little bit star struck, people I would only have heard of were sitting in the same room as me discussing horses and rhyming out their positives and negatives. This really helped me also, as I was able to have a look at the pages myself and realise what was desirable and what was not.

In particular there was one agent who I was told would not remember my name for at least six months. I was determined to make an impression and to do my work as well as I could for him and by the end of the week he knew my name. This to be honest was a highlight for me as I tried so hard to make sure that I was helpful and in my opinion I succeeded.

In between the yearling and foal sales I was able to spend a few days in the busy Insurance Department. Carmel guided me through the insurance system and although I didn’t spend much time in Insurance, I feel that I got a good grasp of how everything is done and the requirement for attention to detail and having all policy paperwork in order.

I then got to have a stint with the shipping team at Goffs during the HIT and Open Yearling Sale. This involved keeping an eye out for when the agents bought horses and collecting their dockets to be brought back up to the office and then further to be organised by Sarah-Anne who was a great mentor during this period. She emphasised how vital it was to get the correct information from the agent such as, if a horse had to under-go wind tests and bloods. If the information was wrong or not gathered correctly, there would have been issues thereafter. This was a great way of learning how to be on the ball and to always take down the correct information on each lot number.

I have since finished all of my catalogues for the sales season and now have been helping the Shipping team out a lot. There is a large shipment of horses going to China just after Christmas and they all have to do 30 days quarantine beforehand. I have been busy helping out preparing spreadsheets and all of the documentation regarding each horse as there is a lot paperwork to be presented to the Department of Agriculture. Shipping is a very busy element of BBA Ireland and I can vouch for that now. The experience in the shipping department has taught me to be organised and meticulous in everything that you do even down to the smallest detail.

I genuinely loved every minute of my time here at BBA Ireland and I will be so sad to leave. Everyone has been so helpful, with a special mention to Ines Malone, from whom I have learnt a mountain of knowledge. I cannot emphasise enough how helpful and kind each and every member of the team were through this experience and I want to thank them for that. I highly recommend anyone wishing to learn more about pedigrees and bloodstock in general to try and have a stint in BBA Ireland as it is without a doubt a brilliant place to learn. I would like to thank all the team for having me here and also of course the ITBA Next Generation for giving me such opportunities.

The next phase of my apprenticeship is at Punchestown Racecourse. I am very excited about getting to be there for the inaugural Punchestown Festival and I’m sure that after Christmas it will be all systems go!

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