Ethan Blackmore is currently residing in Japan working in Sheikh Mohammed’s racing and breeding operation in Hokkaido.
How did you get involved in the bloodstock/breeding industry?
I didn’t grow up around horses but I was always very fond of them as animals from a young age. I took up riding lessons at a local equestrian centre around the age of 11. I often heard my father saying to people “We never really saw much of him after that!”
I worked with sport horses as much as possible outside of school until I was 15 when I was offered a job by Flash Conroy of Glenvale Stud. I owe great thanks to that man as he put so much of his time into teaching me to care for horses to a very high standard and I gained great experience in prepping yearlings for the sales. It was there I found a love for the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.
Who helped you along the way or gave you advice?
Almost everyone in this industry is willing to help you if you show an interest. I’m incredibly grateful to so many people, it’s difficult to mention them all, but I will mention a few.
My neighbours, Max and Lyn Morris of Iverk House Stud, very kindly paid for me to attend a stud farming course at the British Racing School in Newmarket when I was 17.
Dr Harry Sweeney of Paca Paca Farm has been a massive influence on my career and education to date. John Osborne (then CEO of Irish National Stud) gave me great guidance during my time there.
Frank Motherway, Deirdre, and Conor Cashman of Yellowford Farm and Drumlin Stud got me interested in National Hunt breeding and continue to give me invaluable advice and support.
My neighbour, Jerry Cunningham, is a phenomenal horseman and taught me so much growing up. He is always at the end of the phone whenever I have a problem with a horse.
What challenges/problems have you faced so far?
There are challenges with everything but I try to stay focused on the more positive things. This industry is top class and I consider myself very lucky to have made so many friends and connections along the way, many of which I couldn’t imagine life without!
I do have concerns for the future, however, with the current staffing crisis and lack of enthusiasm from younger people to get more involved in the physical side of the work. Hopefully this will change going forward and it is great to see more incentives are being created to get people involved.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to get involved in the industry professionally?
Get involved in the game. Invest your money in bloodstock instead of a fancy car. You will learn so much more about the business from owning a horse yourself than you do when you’re looking after them for someone else.
Go to work with the attitude that you will learn something new every day – even if it’s the wrong thing to do, you are still learning!
Invest in good work clothes and protect your feet. We spend long hours working outdoors in all types of weather so it’s important to be as comfortable as possible while doing so.
Lastly, be kind to people. Everyone is riding their own race and we all must cross a different number of hurdles to get to the finish line.
What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
I’m currently working at Sheikh Mohammed’s racing and breeding operation in Hokkaido, Japan’s northern prefecture. For now, I’m focusing on learning and speaking Japanese to a reasonably fluent level. I also hope to further my knowledge of Japanese racing and bloodstock. I have two broodmares at home, whom I own in partnership with great friends, and both are in foal for next year. Hopefully, they arrive safely, and we can plan their future. That’s what breeding is all about – HOPE!