The Sportsman: February 12th

With entries closing next week for the new intake of students for the coveted Godolphin Flying Start program, Sportsman’s Shayne O’Cass talks with manager Clodagh Kavanagh.

I’ve heard a bit about the Godolphin Flying Start from various people, when did it start and what is it exactly?

It started in 2003 when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed asked one of his advisers “Where do the future leaders of the Thoroughbred industry come from?” He wanted to create a scholarship program that would provide an unmatched education and training for the recipients and a conduit into the Thoroughbred industry, especially for those without any industry connections. The vision for Godolphin Flying Start is to produce “Committed industry leaders working in existing and emerging racing nations, leading to the long term success of the Thoroughbred industry”

So anyone can apply? What sort of experience and qualify cations do they need? How many applicants do you expect this year?

I expect about 100 applicants, that is the number we have had for the last few years. Anyone can apply if they meet the criteria which is on the applications section of our website They need to have either excellent year12 results and five years full-time employment in the thoroughbred industry, or a university degree and at least one years full-time employment in the thoroughbred industry. Other things include three references, a CV, letter applying for the scholarship, passport and full clean driving licence.

Sounds like it’d be the experience of a lifetime. All that travel and access to really successful people. I think the first requirement is a passport!

Of course, and it must be valid for at least three years!

I know one previous Godolphin Flying Start alumni – we call him the great man, Eden Harrington, he used to work here at the Sportsman and the Daily Telegraph. Now he’s one of the bigwigs at the China Horse Club! What about some of the others, maybe some Aussies that you have seen through the course?

We have had some really impressive Australian trainees that have gone on to great careers in the industry. For example Henry Field, master of Newgate Stud, Adrian Bott, Racing Manager for Gai Waterhouse racing, Craig Rounsefell of Boomer Bloodstock, Jason Walsh of Godolphin and Meagan Jamieson who works at the VRC.

Do you go with the students?

My office is based at Kildangan Stud in Ireland and I travel to conduct interviews, trainee progress review meetings and keep in touch with industry leaders once or twice a year in the USA, Australia and Dubai. The trainees are fortunate to have the support of Darley Management and a local co-ordinator in each country they are based in, but they are expected to manage their time, assignment workload, personal and professional development themselves for the most part.

What is the place or the activity the students have tended to like or remember the most?

Australia of course. Honestly, it’s hard to beat the quality of bloodstock in the Hunter Valley, the excitement of racing in Sydney and Melbourne, the climate and the Australian lifestyle. Very many of our recent graduates have chosen to work in NSW.

We had the inaugural Godolphin Awards for Excellence down here this year, and the Godolphin Flying Start is world famous – Sheikh Mohammed seems to have a real desire to help people achieve their best and acknowledge them when they do.

That is true. For my part, I know how much support I have from Godolphin for all aspects of the program and I know of no other industry or academic scholarship that matches Godolphin Flying Start for its conditions or quality of training. It is life changing.

When do applications close and how can people who are interested find out more?

Applications for 2016 close next Friday, February 19th. Most people will need two or three months to put their application together as it sometimes takes time to get transcripts, references or an English test if required.

Okay, I can’t let you go before I ask – tell us who is the Godolphin horse racing down here, or unraced (up to you), that we should follow and why?

Anything by Shamardal, I think!