CAFRE recently partnered with Down Royal Racecourse to provide Downpatrick student Martin Rice with an opportunity to take part in a fantastic two week placement scheme.
Martin provides an overview of his experience.
Martin explains: “I am a final year Equine Management Degree student currently studying at CAFRE Enniskillen Campus. I was recently able to avail of a fantastic opportunity provided by Down Royal Racecourse, to take part on a two week placement scheme. I would become part of their team in the lead up to their premier racing weekend, The Northern Ireland Festival of Racing.
“This was a unique opportunity to experience the workings of a racecourse and the management of its facilities on a daily basis through to the day of a race meeting. I was truly enthusiastic about being able to gain valuable experience of another side of the Thoroughbred industry than what I was used to as I come from a background of working at a racing yard.
“I arrived to my first day at the racecourse feeling prepared for the challenge of an office environment, unlike my daily routine of wearing riding boots and a day on the gallops. However it was not long before the welcoming team at Down Royal truly made me feel at ease and set me to work.
“My two weeks passed in a flash. It was all new, 9-5 at a desk, which to my surprise quickly filled with paper work and I truly got to appreciate the usefulness of post-it notes. This was no boring office job, however, the team was alive, positive and confident in their role. They were not afraid to get me involved and I thrived in this energetic and demanding environment, taking on every task assigned to me as a fresh challenge, like having a new three year old horse in for breaking.
“This was the lead up to the Northern Ireland Festival of Racing and the completion of the £150,000 redevelopment of the public bar. Those who arrived for the meeting would enjoy up to date and luxurious facilities. It was the First Grade 1 Race of the National Hunt Season and top challengers had lined up to take on the JNwine.com Champion Chase; Boston Bob, Road to Riches and Rocky Creek to name but a few. This was a festival for the true racing fan and the socialiser in the best of settings. I was to be part of it all.
“My work at the course included taking bookings, updating social media pages, communicating with the public and members, providing race day information, advertising and promotions, co-ordinating prizes and assisting in judging ‘best turned out’ on the race days.
“It was a varied job, which kept it interesting; working within the racecourse team you must be adaptable and proactive, always have in mind the quality of racing that the course is delivering and the service that must be provided on a daily basis. This allowed me to develop my interpersonal and communication skills. The racecourse provided a great day out for those in the high-end hospitality suites to the everyday man or woman who could avail of the newly refurbished bar and food provided by the award winning Hannon Meats of Moira.
“All the hard work of the two weeks was realised in my final two days, The NI Festival Of Racing, seeing an event of such a scale come together and the top quality racing on offer at the track was a ‘buzz’ that lasted for weeks.
“Knowing I was part of the success which saw some of the best horses, many of whom may appear later in the season at Cheltenham, competing for Graded races at the track and an increased attendance of over 300 during the two days of the festival gave me a great sense of achievement.
“I could not have enjoyed the experience anymore and feel I was truly able to develop such a wide range of skills that I can now take on to other roles and situations I meet in the future.”
“I would like to thank the Down Royal Team for providing me with this excellent opportunity.”