The 2017 Flying Start graduation ceremony took place in the beautiful Cape Cross centre at Kildangan Stud in Ireland on the evening of Friday, June 30th. Invited guests included the parents of the graduating class, Godolphin and Darley management and thoroughbred industry leaders who have supported the Flying Start trainees throughout their two years on the programme. 100 people gathered for the formal ceremony including family and friends of the graduating trainees, Godolphin Flying Start alumni and industry leaders including Irish Turf Club Senior Steward Meta Osborne, Goffs CEO Henry Beeby, Bloodstock Agent Mick Flanagan, Consignor Michael Buckley, Andrew Chesser, USA Jockey Club, Christy Grassick, Coolmore, Chris and Annie Richardson, Cheveley Park Stud and new Irish National Stud CEO Cathal Beale.
Clodagh Kavanagh opened proceedings by warmly welcoming guests and trainees families from as far away as China, Spain and Lexington. She spoke about how Sheikh Mohammed had the vision to create Flying Start and the fact that there were now 152 graduates of the program. She who complimented her team of coordinators who work to implement Flying Start. She described the increased emphasis on innovation, technology and creativity as part of the course content in the past year. Clodagh also spoke about the quality of academia, horsemanship and personal development required to complete the program. Her role in maintaining relationships with thoroughbred industry leaders, alumni and leaders in education is key to maintaining the quality of the course she said. She explained that the graduates of the program are working towards forming an alumni association and that Flying Start will continue to run Professional Development conferences Clodagh congratulated the class of trainees on their achievements during the course.
Godolphin CEO, Joe Osborne, was then called on to speak. He described the friendships and team spirit among the graduating class and his message to the trainees for the future was to “Inspire Others”.
Director of Executive Development at University College Dublin Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Lorraine Heffernan, then spoke about the academic standard of the program, and the standing that UCD and its’ graduates had achieved. The UCD Michael Smurfit Business School holds accreditations from the three leading accreditation authorities and they are only one of approximately 100 business schools worldwide to hold the triple crown of accreditation. Moreover, the School’s programmes are consistently ranked highly, as they are the only Business School in Ireland ranked in the Financial Times rankings of Business Schools. She said the most critical signal of quality is the quality of the graduates, the nature of the impact they make on the organisations they work for, the organisations they create and the wider world around them. She encouraged the graduating class to develop a passion for contribution, for hard work and for life-long learning and development. Lorraine thanked Clodagh Kavanagh for her commitment to the program and to working with UCD.
Godolphin UK and Godolphin Flying Start Director Hugh Anderson was then called to address the audience and present the Diplomas to the 10 trainees. Hugh drew comparisons to his own education and training in the navy and as a barrister with the experience gained on Flying Start. Nine of the graduating class received a merit award and Michael Smith from California received a huge round of applause as the top trainee of 2017, having completed the program with a Distinction award.
New graduates Jackson Buchanon and Lauren De Arias Huep then thanked the guests and Godolphin Flying Start management of behalf of their class mates before calling Clodagh Kavanagh, Joe Osborne and Martin Larkin to the stage to receive gifts from the trainees.