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USA Conference 2019

The 2019 Godolphin Flying Start USA Conference was held at Limestone Hall in Lexington. The evening was entitled the ‘Godolphin Flying Start Film Festival’ which saw over 60 guests along with the trainees in attendance. The proceedings began with a welcome from Godolphin Flying Start Management Assistant Martin Larkin and Godolphin Flying Start alum and USA coordinator Kate Hardy. She outlined how the evening’s proceedings would unfold with the trainees split into four teams, each producing a five minute short film using only their mobile phones. The four films the trainees produced were: Born and Raced; Unstable Talk; Getting a Handle on Betting; and Breaking Point.

Limestone Hall, Lexington

“Born and Raced”, produced by Liza Hendriks, Nico Archdale and Samantha Cripps focussed on the owners of Silverton Hill Farm Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton and their homebred filly Ruby Notion. The trainees wanted to capture what it meant to the boutique operation owners to have their filly run and “come back safe” as Bonnie said during the film. The Hamilton’s kindly allowed the trainees film at their farm, and they captured the story behind Ruby Notion’s breeding and probable future career as a broodmare. After their film concluded the trainees took some interesting questions from the audience about how boutique operations can continue to compete with the larger racing powers to which they replied: “All it takes is one good one and you can do quite well!”

Liza Hendriks, Samantha Cripps, Nico Archdale

“Unstable Talk” was made by a team comprised of Issy Paul, Anna Power and Niall O’Connor. Their creative film revolved around giving horses a voice in a light-hearted manner which saw plenty of laughing and smiling from the audience. Their film commenced with the life of ‘Brian’, the teaser who lived a happy but frustrating life at his farm. They then followed young foals with their mothers and portrayed to the audience what they just might be saying to each other in the paddocks. They concluded their film with a segment which addressed medication issues within the Thoroughbred industry with three fit racehorses heading out to the track conversing about what they had innocently eaten in the lead up to the raceday only to realise they may be in breach of the rules as pointed out by an imported French Filly. When questioned about how giving the horse a voice in a light-hearted manner may be perceived by the general public, the trainees felt that racing should look to the huge success of some children’s television programme’s and how this might capture the imagination of a younger audience.

Niall O’Connor, Anna Power and Issy Paul

“Getting a Handle on Betting” was produced by John Bourke, Lucy Blake and Luke Evans. They wanted their film to emphasise the importance of what betting does for the Thoroughbred industry. They conducted a wide range of to-camera interviews which included some diverse and amusing everyday racegoer and the handicapper and professional sports handicapper Mike Maloney. Their three primary questions were; Why do you bet? How do you bet? How does betting contribute to racing? Some said they bet simply for fun or to try to make some money while others bet on horse colour or racing silks. The alarm bells rang when none of the interviewees except the professional sports handicapper, Mike Maloney, could answer how betting contributes to racing. John, Lucy and Luke were faced with some difficult questions on how racing can do a better job at ‘selling’ the betting product to the wider general public. They felt that USA racing could benefit from adopting some of the practices seen in Europe in terms of bets offered, for example, offering customers fixed odds which would give them “value for money”. They also felt that simplifying the data available for the racegoer would help entice them to bet more as the current method is very daunting to anyone new coming to the racetrack.

Lucy Blake, John Bourke and Luke Evans

“Breaking Point” was devised and produced by Annise Montplaisir, Corbin Blumberg and Amelie Lemercier. Breaking Point commenced with news clips about the Santa Anita breakdowns from all the major US news broadcasters. The trainees felt that the public did not see the level of care being given to these racehorses and how passionate people who work in the Thoroughbred industry are about what they do. Their film featured a number of interviews from people who work in the industry and they outlined all the good that is happening currently and what we can each do to make it even better. Amelie, Corbin and Annise each featured in the closing segments of the film outlining as young people in the industry what they had done to date in order to lead change for the betterment of the Thoroughbred industry not just in the USA but worldwide. Many questions from the audience centred around improving public perception of the sport. The trainees created the film to show that change was not only coming but it was here and that each person can make a difference. Corbin addressed a question on public perception on the breakdown issues at Santa Anita racetrack. He spoke of how racing needs to do a better job of keeping the public informed, for example, when an NFL or NBA star gets injured the public are kept informed of their recuperation and when they may be back competing. He also commended Santa Anita for how they had made their track safer which resulted in no breakdowns over a six-week period which unfortunately didn’t make mainstream news.

Annise Montplaisir, Amelie Lemercier, Corbin Blumberg

Following the final film, Martin Larkin and Kate Hardy took the stage to award the much anticipated ‘Godolphin Flying Start Oscars’. Martin outlined how the ‘academy’ which consisted of himself, Kate Hardy and Landon Antonetti, who is Godolphin’s in house videographer and photographer, chose each award winner for the evening. Born and Raced was chosen as the ‘Best Picture’ and Nico Archdale gave the team’s acceptance speech, he thanked “Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton, Ruby Notion for their help in producing their award-winning film!

Team Born and Raced with Kate Hardy and Martin Larkin

On behalf of Godolphin Flying Start management, Martin Larkin closed the conference. He described the trainees as bright and passionate and commended them for their four very creative and thought provoking films.  He thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for his vision and commitment to training our industry’s future leaders and thanked Godolphin and American thoroughbred industry leaders for their continued support of the program during the seven months duration there.

Ireland Conference 2018

The first years Irish Conference was opened by Clodagh Kavanagh welcoming the guests and giving an overview of Godolphin Flying Start and the purpose of the conference. She emphasised the different skills involved in the assignment which incorporated the trainee’s business acumen, research skills, knowledge of the thoroughbred industry, teamwork and the ability to engage their audience. The trainees produced a 60-minute presentation on their ideas for an ‘Irish Equine Health Campus. Guests in attendance included Sarah McNicholas, Patrick Kelly, Meta Osborne MRCVS, Dermot Cantillon, John Powell FRCVS, Joe Kiernan and Joe Osborne.