James Keane

Why did you apply for the Godolphin Flying Start scholarship?

I applied for Godolphin Flying Start in order to gain some international experience and develop a network of contacts that I could utilize from a business perspective as my career progresses. I think the biggest surprise on this journey has been how I have developed on a personal level through the work we do on self-awareness and our leadership and communication modules.

Where has been your favourite phase of the programme?

Its hard to pin down a favourite as each individual phase has offered new learning opportunities and challenges, with people and methods that have been exciting to discover. Australia was a place I had never been before and the industry there is in a healthy place, particularly in terms of prizemoney. In terms of training its essentially a 12-month calendar so horses don’t have seasons the same way we do. It was interesting to see how they managed horses in training to cope with this. There is also a more business focused approach to the training side of things.

Who has had the most influence on you since you commenced the programme?

I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best in the business while on Flying Start. I think the person who has had the most influence on me has been Mick Donohoe of BBA Ireland. I was lucky to spend time with him at sales in Ireland, England and America. Mick has given me huge guidance when it comes to assessing bloodstock, doing business at the sales and managing a portfolio such as he does.

How would you measure your progress since August 2021?

My outlook today would be very different to what I started with. I am a far more balanced individual than I was. My horsemanship skills were strong and remain so. I have made huge strides in my human resource management skills and business understanding. I would go further and say that my understanding of the industry as a whole has vastly improved. Through the exposure I’ve had on the course I’ve been able to see what a top racehorse looks like from the time of mating plans right through to retirement, encompassing every step of a thoroughbred’s development.

What is your biggest learning from the last two years that will help you in the future?

This industry is as much about people as it is horses. Whether it’s managing a yard or communicating with clients, people are what make the game tick. Good culture will help to develop a strong team that will perform at its optimum. Beyond that the more exposure I have had to the business side of the industry the more I realized “people do business with people”. The relationships that are cultivated at the sales, the races and social circles beyond carry through to the deals that are done between industry participants.