LAST Saturday, October 8th, Kildangan Stud opened its gates to any personnel open to the prospect of developing a career in the thoroughbred industry.

Managing director of Godolphin Ireland, Joe Osborne, introduced the inaugural event by stating, “The purpose of today is to promote the thoroughbred sector as a career choice for people.”

Educational equine bodies and universities across Ireland have done extremely well in developing their syllabuses to allow students the chance of gaining a higher-level certificate in equine studies.

Events like this are incredibly important for indicating the jobs that an equine qualification may lead to, and for reminding those of us already employed in the thoroughbred industry of its diversity. Attracting new advocates to the sport is one thing, but retaining their interest is another.

Generous bonus

If the careers advice from some of our leading industry figures still wasn’t enough of an incentive to attend, then there were also free tickets to the Curragh for that afternoon available to everyone present. A generous bonus from an event just trying to help people find their feet in the industry.

The panel consisted of Orlaith Nangle, Cathal Beale, Una Tormey and Alex Cairns, all of whom work in diverse industry sectors and are in differing stages of their careers.

Collectively, they advised to explore all of the beautiful crevices within the thoroughbred industry and to never stop learning.

Orlaith Nangle – Trainee Godolphin Flying Start

Orlaith is a young adult who is six weeks into the prestigious Godolphin Flying Start course. Despite riding occasionally through her adolescence, Orlaith’s thoroughbred journey started when she attended Maynooth University to study Equine Business.

The course opened many doors for her and she was able to head to Coolmore America to work on their Kentucky farm as part of a placement. After university, she continued to hone her horse husbandry skills via her participation in the six-month English National Stud Diploma course.

Still undecided of the industry sector she would like to work in, Orlaith is following her own career advice of exploring every avenue first.

Cathal Beale – CEO Irish National Stud

Cathal gave some great advice for people unsure of where to start in the industry. He had very little thoroughbred experience when he started himself, and grew more confident by working part-time and unpaid in a thoroughbred racing yard.

Cathal gradually grew competent enough in handling horses to get accepted on the Irish National Stud breeding course, and his journey’s gone from there. He advised that people were always willing to take you in despite lack of experience, you just have to pick up the phone.

If your thoroughbred handling skills are limited, then he suggested to start off by building confidence handling mares and then transitioning onto foals, yearlings and, if desired, horses in training.

Una Tormey – Operations Manager ITBA

Una has recently joined the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association as a full-time executive, and has done so at an exciting time, as the organisation has just appointed a new chairperson and is seeking a new chief executive.

Prior to joining the ITBA, Una’s experience was predominantly in the racing sector where she worked for her father’s operation for many years.

Alex Cairns – Marketing Director Irish Thoroughbred Marketing

Alex entered full-time employment as a French university lecturer after he studied the language of love for his London degree. During his time in France, he developed a racing blog which helped keep those across the channel in touch with the French thoroughbred industry.

The blog helped Alex to develop his marketing skills and it was only after this that he decided to shift his career to the thoroughbred industry full time.

I particularly valued Alex’s advice of not having to jump into something straight away and allowing yourself to develop skills on the side before committing.

Alex is also a graduate of the BHA Development Programme, another great placement-based course for young people in the industry, and recently participated in a thoroughbred management course at RACE to advance his riding skills.

He admitted that he was still learning how to ride and put support behind the famous saying of practice what you preach, with his biggest take-home message being to never stop learning.


It is always incredibly humbling and refreshing when people excelling in the thoroughbred industry reveal the struggles that they have overcome and struggles that you can relate to.

It’s also calming to hear that they, at one stage, were also unsure of what career steps to take.

Alex Cairns, Cathal Beale and Orlaith Nangle all came into the industry without a previous family association with it.

The fact that three of the four panellists meet this criterion really epitomises the openness of the thoroughbred industry, and indicates that the top-end industry roles are there for anyone willing to put in the hard work.

Stud tour

After the panel discussion, participants were given a tour of the impeccable Kildangan grounds by the Flying Start trainees.

This was an incredible experience in itself and very appealing for anyone interested in a career in stud work.

Two yearling fillies were paraded to the audience and the Flying Start trainees provided an overlying insight into their current juvenile work, which was helping to prepare them for the breaking process.

The tour came to an end at the stud’s stallion barn, which hosted a selection of industry stands and allowed attendees to interact with individuals employed in their fields of interest.

We were also given a glimpse of 2022 first-season sire Space Blues, the sensational Night Of Thunder, and the well-established Teofilo.

Left inspired

Personally, I left Kildangan feeling inspired, uplifted and determined, all of which are indicators of a successful careers event and I have to commend the participants involved.

If you are unsure of which pathway to take in the thoroughbred industry, or how best to learn, utilise the advice from these industry figures and make sure to check out all of the educational equine courses available. It’s never too late or too early, people are always willing to help.

Most importantly, never stop learning.