SINCE day one of the Godolphin Flying Start programme to today, day 615 to be precise, it is truly amazing how much has changed.

However, probably the only thing that remains unchanged is where I am sitting right now: Kildangan Stud.

As we complete one lap around the world, Kildangan remains the place where we embarked on this incredible journey, exposing my fellow trainees and me to a world most of us could have only imagined.

Now, as we near the final stretch run on this journey (potentially more like ParisLongchamp’s false straight with our final business plans still to come), the Irish industry has welcomed us back with open arms.

Returning to Ireland just a few months ago brought back memories of my first day landing in Ireland for the Irish National Stud. Just like day one, the sight of the Curragh and the drive through Kildare town provided that same thrill that I hope, as a racing fan, is never lost.

In our short time back in Ireland, we’ve been able to get out and about, visiting many of the leading operations in the industry. From Westmeath to Tipperary to the local Kildare area, we were fortunate enough to pick up right where we left off in year one.

We started off our second stint with a stallion tour of the Darley stallions, seeing many familiar faces, with Naval Crown and Native Trail being the unfamiliar faces from our last visit, but providing a glimpse of what could be the future. However, for myself, it’s the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Raven’s Pass who will always be the fan favourite.

One of the major highlights of our time back has been a three-week rotation with each of us going to a variety of trainers around the area.

Fellow trainee Ben Triandafillou and I had the opportunity to spend our rotation with Richard Brabazon and the team at Rangers Lodge, an operation with a history on the grounds of the Curragh that cannot be overstated.

It was an absolute pleasure working with the team who not only helped us learn and develop as horsemen but also welcomed us from the start. It’s truly something special to watch a horse come galloping up the Old Vic or the Free Eagle each morning.

Moreover, our personal interest in racing history made our rotation and working for Dick Brabazon the perfect match, as Dick was a wealth of knowledge. He graciously shared his time, teaching and explaining to us the history of racing, from the history of the Curragh to Epsom Downs to the days of Phoenix Park and everything in between.

The history of racing is in safe hands at Rangers Lodge.

Dubai milestone

Going back abroad for a brief moment led to an important milestone in the Godolphin Flying Start’s history.

Passing through the desert of the UAE has been a significant moment on the course for nearly every class of the Flying Start, experiencing racing in the home of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

However, getting to experience not only my first Dubai World Cup but also witnessing the first Flying Start-trained winner on World Cup night, courtesy of Jerome Reynier’s Facteur Cheval taking out the Group 1 Dubai Turf, was truly remarkable.

With a host of former graduates descending on Meydan, doing everything from media to training to management and more, it was an international event in more ways than just the horses on the track.

For me, Ireland was the home of my first trip across the sea, my first time leaving the USA and venturing into the unknown world. Ireland, as it has for so many young people striving for greatness in the horse racing industry, has welcomed them with open arms to begin a journey of a lifetime within the sport and beyond.

Whether it happens through Godolphin Flying Start, the Irish National Stud, or simply a working holiday, Ireland will hold a special influence in growing the industry worldwide, as well as holding a special importance in all our careers on this course.

Walking through the INS or through the Godolphin Museum in the halls of Kildangan, it brings you back to your first time experiencing these places, the person you were two years ago and just how much has changed and will change in the time ahead. American baseball star Yogi Berra said it best when he proclaimed, “It’s déjà vu, all over again.”

If he was right about that, then I can’t wait to see what comes next.

See for more information on the programme