20 Year Alumni Conference Ireland 2023

20 Years of Godolphin Flying Start

Godolphin Flying Start commemorated its 20th anniversary with a reunion and professional development conference entitled “Impact and Influence” held at the K Club in County Kildare on June 29th. Over 100 graduates from across the globe and notable speakers attended the event, marking a momentous occasion for the renowned Thoroughbred industry programme.

Impact and Influence Conference

The conference Prelude, which focussed on Godolphin, HH Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin Charitable initiatives, was led by Godolphin Flying Start Chair Joe Osborne, who has held this position since the programme’s inception in 2003. He was followed by Diana Cooper, Godolphin’s Strategic Adviser for Charities. The conference was hosted by 2008 graduate Gina Bryce, who guided attendees through a day filled with enlightening discussions and thought-provoking insights. To kickstart the event, Lisa Jane Graffard, a graduate from the class of 2005, took the stage and reflected on the visionary objectives of the Godolphin Flying Start programme. Her speech highlighted the remarkable accomplishments achieved over the past two decades in advancing the Thoroughbred industry.

                                         Gina Bryce opens the proceedings

Guest Speakers

Executive Director Clodagh Kavanagh, a driving force behind the success of Godolphin Flying Start, took the stage, engaging in a candid conversation with guests. The CEO of CPL, Lorna Conn, and Entrepreneur Heinrich Anhold, founder of Stable Lab, shared their valuable insights on their backgrounds, the challenges of running successful businesses while maintaining a balanced life and making an Impact. An enthralling segment of the conference featured an interview by Cathal Beale, CEO of the Irish National Stud and a Flying Start graduate of 2010, with Anna Jones, author of the book “Divide.” The book examines the urban : rural divide and Anna possesses a unique perspective on cultural, agricultural, and social issues that often polarise rather than unite communities. Growing up on a sheep farm in the Welsh borders and later living in urban settings, Jones the importance of mutual respect and recognition of strengths between diverse sections of society.The conference also involved brainstorm workshops facilitated by graduates and alumni award winners, where participants collaborated in groups to explore how they could collectively impact and influence challenges within the Thoroughbred industry in their regions.Michael Hardy, a graduate from the class of 2012, addressed the gathering, reflecting not only on the significance of the day but also on the 20 remarkable years of Flying Start. He inspired everyone to look towards the future with determination and vision to show leadership in the industry.

                                             Lorna Conn & Heinrich Anhold

Call to Action

The event closed with Clodagh Kavanagh taking the stage again to emphasise the call to action for all delegates to influence and impact their peers and the industry in any way they could. She extended her heartfelt gratitude to all those who participated, acknowledging the significant efforts made by individuals to attend and contribute. Kavanagh sincerely appreciated HH Sheikh Mohammed for his unwavering support of the program.

Business and Leadership Excellence Awards

The day’s events culminated in a reception and alumni awards ceremony, where outstanding graduates were recognised for their business achievements and leadership contributions to the industry.


Rising Star Leadership award: Annise Montplaisir (class of 2021) Executive Director of Lexington based Amplify Horseracing.

Rising Star Business award: Tim Donworth (class of 2018) racehorse trainer based in Chantilly, France.

Leadership Excellence: Craig Rounsefell (class of 2007) who is CEO of Queensland based Boomer Bloodstock as well as Chair of the FBAA.

Business Excellence: Gary King (class of 2010), Senior VP TDN and President TDN AusNZ.

                                               2023 Alumni Award Winners


Reunion Party

The 20 year reunion party was celebrated with a gala dinner and dancing to the Arthur band in the Legacy Suite at the K Club. The whole day and evening brought together the vibrant spirit of the Godolphin Flying Start program and the shared commitment to shaping the future of the Thoroughbred industry.