This week’s ITBA 30 under 30 Next Generation features Cork man Cathal Mariga. The Maynooth University student is balancing college life and race horses. Mariga is making great strides in the industry in breeding and buying and selling and he has ambitions of completing the Irish National Stud Breeding Course.

How did you get involved in racing/ breeding?

I grew up on a dairy farm in Gortroe, East Cork. East Cork has a rich thoroughbred history. It didn’t take long for me to acquire the horse bug after meeting Davy Russell, Frank Motherway of Yellowford Farm, and Oliver Loughlin, all within a five-kilometre radius. My parents purchased our first filly at the 2008 Tattersalls Derby Sale, and we have progressed from milking 100 cows to breeding from 25 National Hunt mares since then.

Who helped you along the way or gave you advice?

Everyone in the horse industry is eager to assist those who want to learn and get involved. First and foremost, my parents have been tremendously supportive in allowing me to obtain experience wherever I desired. When I was younger, Frank Motherway and Oliver Loughlin taught me the fundamentals of horse care, whether it was just learning how to care for mares and foals in general or how to prepare foals for sale. Then, during my transition year, I worked with Michael Moore of Ballincurrig House Stud during the Goffs December National Hunt Sale, which was a huge help in learning how thoroughbred sales work. I also worked a week of night shifts at Rathbarry Stud’s foaling unit, which helped us when we began foaling our mares at home. Creighmore Stables’ Michael O’Brien was a huge assistance in teaching me what I needed to know about lunging and prepping stores. In the mornings before college, I also worked with Timmy Hillman. This was a fantastic learning opportunity, and he taught me a lot. Last summer I did yearling prep for Timmy Hyde and worked the Orby sale for Flash Conroy. Both are huge industry names who provided me with excellent advice. I also want to mention Paul McGrath, who manages our farm and has been a huge assistance to me over the years.

What challenges/problems have you faced so far?

The main issue I’ve had thus far is balancing college studies with work at home and in sales. I prefer working with horses over college work, but that won’t be a problem now that I’m in my final year of Equine Business in Maynooth.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to get involved in the industry professionally?

My advice is to talk to as many people working in the sector as possible and to work hard. People are always willing to take a chance on those who convey a passion for the industry and it will open many doors to a successful career.

What are your hopes for the next 12 months?

I will be working at home until the Derby Sale and then I am planning to go back to Camas Park to do another yearling prep there and gain more valuable experience. My plan for the end of the year is to work at as many of the sales as I can to make more contacts in the industry. I hope to apply for the Irish National Stud Breeding Course in September so hopefully, I will be successful and get the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge of the whole operation at the Irish National Stud and the thoroughbred industry.