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Caitriona Bolger


Caitriona Bolger

ITBA Next Generation Apprentices 2016/17 Interview by Lissa Oliver

As Caitriona Bolger looks forward to an exciting year ahead as the new ITBA Next Generation Apprentice, we caught up with her to pose a few questions.

What sparked your interest in horses and a career in racing?


I hunted and show jumped and when I finished my Junior Certificate I was lucky enough to get a place with Ger Lyons. After my Leaving Certificate I went to CAFRE and got a placement with Gordon Elliott, where I now have a full-time job.

What are you most hoping to gain from the apprenticeship?


I’m hoping to make contacts and looking forward to learning from the top people in the industry. I just want to learn as much as I can and to gain their knowledge, to set me up for the future.

What do you see as the biggest challenges?


I’ve always been yard based, so I want to open my ears to new things and try to upskill.

What has been your biggest setback to date, that may have put you off altogether?


A severe injury to my ankle in a riding accident at 17 really made me think I was done, but a little voice in my ear told me to keep going. I’m so glad I have that determination to succeed.

And your most treasured moment?


Getting to work with a leading flat trainer and a leading NH trainer, it has been an incredible experience. When I joined Gordon’s in my first year we had a Gold Cup winner and I also led up a winner at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, it was just the bee’s knees. I couldn’t be part of a better team and that’s something I’ll always remember.

Horse people and classrooms don’t always mix, how have you found a happy balance?


School was challenging for me because I’m dyslexic, but at CAFRE it’s half and half practical and classroom based. Even with science subjects the teacher is very good at bringing you out into the yard and putting it into practical context.

How much of a help has the ITBA Next Generation been?


I’ve attended most seminars and listened to the top people in the industry, you feel like it’s one-on-one. It’s a community and you realise how different we all are with so many varied interests, but we can all feed off each other.

Any top tips for the interview stages of the Apprenticeship?


Take care over your cover letter and CV, make sure it’s done well. The presentation was key, to show your understanding of the subject. What surprises me is that there were only 20-30 applicants. Don’t think you don’t stand much chance, that’s what I thought, but I’m here now.

Do you remember getting the phone call from Kerry Ryan to say you had got the apprenticeship?


I got the call while we were driving and my mum thought there was something wrong and stopped the car! I was afraid to tell anyone, in case it was just a dream!

What are your long-term aims for the future?


I would love to be a travelling head girl. There are a lot of top men and a few ladies in leading roles, but we definitely need more. We both want to prove that hard work and dedication will get you where you want to be, you don’t have to have the right pedigree to get on in the industry.

You’re in full-time employment, how hard a decision is it to say goodbye?


It’s hard to leave such a successful yard with a great team atmosphere, it’s been a pleasure working there and I’ve gained invaluable experiences that will benefit me for the future. I have to thank Ruairi O Coileáin at Ennistown Stud who gave me a start and has helped me from the very beginning.

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