MAY was an action-packed month for the second year Godolphin Flying Start trainees. It included a number of outstanding racedays, visits to some of Ireland’s leading racing yards, as well some of the country’s top stud operations.

The trainees also submitted their final business plan assignments, along with their presentations, pitching their ideas to an expert panel.

Trainees were treated to a fantastic two days of racing at Newmarket at the beginning of the month, with the Rowley Mile basking in all its glory for the Guineas Festival.

It was a spectacular day for Godolphin on the Saturday, in particular, with Coroebus and Native Trail running first and second in the 2000 Guineas. It was a rather nostalgic moment for several of the trainees who were lucky enough to work with Coroebus as a yearling during their yard rotations at Kildangan Stud.

Three weeks later we were gathered again at the Curragh for Irish Guineas weekend, where again Godolphin were able to take out the 2000 Guineas with Native Trail. After a rather disrupted first 12 months on the programme due to Covid, the group has really enjoyed getting out and experiencing the best of what European racing has to offer.

The trainees were lucky enough to visit the yards of some of Ireland’s leading trainers over the past few weeks, both in flat and jumps racing. These included a trip to the yards of Willie Mullins and Joseph O’Brien. We relished the opportunity to see racehorses working on their respective gallops as well as having the chance to ask questions about the different training regimes in each operation.

It was brilliant to get an insight into the methodology of each set-up, and the group took plenty of ideas away from each tour.

Stud visits

There were also a number of stud visits in the past few weeks. We spent time at Tinnakill House in Co Laois with Dermot Cantillon and manager and Flying Start graduate Ian Thompson. Trainees were also able to spend time at Micheal Orlandi’s Compas Stallions (Starfield Stud) in Co Westmeath, getting a deeper insight into the running of a stallion operation and the details of stallion acquisition and ownership models. Finally, trainees called in to see the spectacular Kiltinan Castle Stud in Tipperary, the Irish headquarters of the famous Watership Down Stud.

As part of the business plan assignment, trainees received guest lectures from a number of young entrepreneurs and thoroughbred industry figures. These included Luke Lillingston, who discussed bloodstock agency work, Tom Nugent from Bullfinch marketing agency, and Gavin Kelly from SC accountancy, who discussed the world of bloodstock accounting. There were also discussions with racing journalist Kevin Blake, as well as stallion statistician Bill Oppenheim. Each and every discussion was a great stepping stone in the group’s learning and understanding of business entrepreneurship.

Business plan

As the month drew to a close the trainees submitted their business plan projects. This assignment involved trainees identifying a problem within the thoroughbred industry via customer discovery interviews, before coming up with a viable solution in the form of a business idea. Proposals ranged from marketing agencies to online ‘apps’ to manage racing entries, as well as non-profit initiatives and bloodstock syndicate models. It was a great opportunity for the trainees to explore the process of problem solving, and the final presentations also gave trainees the chance to answer questions and critiques of their ideas in the form of an official business pitch.


With just five weeks remaining in the programme for this class, trainees have now headed out onto their final externship placements. For the next month trainees will spend time with various trainers, agents, sales companies and form experts, across England, Ireland and France. It serves as an ideal time to cement and further the experience and knowledge gained from the course thus far, as well as a number of key networking opportunities at various race meetings and sales.

The whole group are both anxious and excited at the anticipation of graduating from the course, and we once again give a sincere thanks to all of our tour hosts and guests lecturers during the programme for their time.

See for more information on the programme