Nick Cope is an Irish National Stud graduate. He has vast experience and has also spent time in Kentucky under Gerry Diliger. In 2021 Nick took up his current role as a farm manager at Stanley Lodge in Cashel, Co Tipperary.
How did you get interested and involved in the industry?
I got involved with horses by accident. I was doing a business degree at DCU but I wasn’t enjoying it so I dropped out of it after one semester. I didn’t know what I was going to do.
My parents are friendly with James and Charlotte Hanly who owned Ballyhimikin Stud. They kindly offered me a job with them.
At the time there was a very bad storm and a couple of trees on the farm had fallen. So I spent my first two weeks on the job splitting sticks and chopping timber, and loading them up.
Then I progressed into mucking out stables and, after a month or so, I was let bring my first mares in and out of the paddock. I ended up doing my first yearling prep that summer. I have been involved with horses ever since.
The following year I went back to college and did Equine Science at UCD. I spent most of my weekends and holidays in Ballyhimikin.
As part of my third year, we had to do a placement. I did that in Kentucky with Gerry Dilger of Dromoland Farm. Gerry asked me to come back when I graduated and do another stint with them.
In 2019 I returned home to do the Irish National Stud course. While completing that course I was lucky enough to be offered a job at Ballyphilip Stud which is owned by Paul and Marie McCartan.
I spent two and a half years there before being offered the job to manage Stanley Lodge by William Kennedy in November 2021.
Who helped you along the way or gave you advice?
I suppose there are a few people in particular. The first was James Hanly for giving me my first job at Ballyhimikin. I still call him today looking for advice.
When I was in America, Gerry Dilger was brilliant. He was very knowledgeable and I owe an awful lot to him. He also put me on the path to do the National Stud course. Paul McCartan was an unbelievable mentor as well. I have learned everything from those three people and all their management teams.
What challenges/problems have you faced so far?
Since I took over in my new managerial position, the staffing crisis has become really evident. I’m lucky enough to have a good team under me at the moment but at different stages since I started we have been understaffed. I would be slightly worried that it is going to become a much more serious issue in the industry over the next couple of years. We have to start getting people in at a grassroots level. We have never had fewer staff and we have more horses than ever.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to get involved in the industry professionally?
If someone has any remote interest, I would tell them to just give it a lash, there are thousands of young people on holiday at the moment from school or college and if a young person has an interest in horses, they should approach someone. In every corner of Ireland, there are yards.
Everyone knows someone involved. So just approach someone and give it a go. Once you are with someone, there is no substitution for hard work. You will succeed if you are willing to learn and put in the hours.
What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
We were lucky here at Stanley Lodge to have 13 healthy foals this year. The farm itself is in good shape. We just need to continue what we are doing. On a personal level, I was able to take a small share in a couple of yearlings that will be sold at the September and October sales. Hopefully, we can keep them healthy now for the next couple of weeks.