2021 – 2023 Trainees USA Conference


The 2022 conference was held in the leafy surrounds of Keeneland racetrack, and how good it was to see 75 people in the clubhouse enjoying a drinks reception prior to the trainees presentation. This was Godolphin Flying Start’s first in-person event in the USA since 2019.

Clodagh Kavanagh, Executive Director of Godolphin Flying Start welcomed the trainees guests and explained that the theme and title for the conference was suggested by the trainees, as they wanted to address challenges for horseracing they have learned about since arriving in Lexington in January 2022. The three big issues of a growing anti-gambling lobby, issues related to horse welfare and race day medication are regularly hitting the headlines and lessening the appeal of horseracing. The trainees wanted to “stand in the shoes” of the critics, see the world from their perspective and empathise with their hopes and concerns.  By developing this understanding they aimed to develop and present targeted marketing campaigns to “Make American Racing Great Again”. Clodagh explained that this presentation was an assignment as part of the trainees Leadership and Communications module, and that the trainees had completed modules in business, equine nutrition and racing regulation during their first five months in Kentucky. They had also experienced hands-on work with horses during practical rotations on horse farms, racing barns and an equine rehabilitation facility in Lexington.

The trainees presented facts, anecdotes and personal experiences of the issues, compared them to similar crises and solutions in other industries, and finally presented their campaigns using video, posters, technology, role play and humor to involve the audience. An expert panel watched the presentations and took part in a Q & A session with the trainees following the presentation. The panel was made up of Pat Cummings from the Thoroughbred Ideas Foundation, Flying Start graduate Kelsey Riley from Team Cornett, Dora Delgado from Breeders Cup and Jason Falls from Team Cornett.

Team Leaders Jessica Daw and Taylor Owens closed the conference thanking Godolphin and all of the attendees for their support, as well as Godolphin Flying Start, and their USA coordinator, Kathryn Banahan.

The audience reflected the wonderful support for Flying Start from alumni and industry leaders from the bloodstock, breeding, racing, marketing, legal, administration, nutrition and regulation sectors. Dinner was served in the clubhouse and both the trainees and guests relaxed and enjoyed the company and food well into the evening.