There's been a lot of discussion lately about the differences between horse racing in the United States and other parts of the world. Much of the talk has focused on medication rules, so the tenor of the debate has appropriately been serious and in most cases, tense.
But in other ways, there is reason to embrace and enjoy the world's many different racing cultures – perhaps with a bit lighter approach. For the next two weeks, I will share the perspective of an American racing fan journeying to England and Ireland. I will be an “American Invader in the UK”.
The trip is a finale to my recent graduation from the University of Louisville's Equine Industry Program, where I studied the business of horse racing intensely for the past year. I will be among a group of a dozen students exploring Great Britain and Ireland's many horse racing venues, centuries-old Thoroughbred companies and rich equine traditions. I'll share my experiences with Paulick Report readers through a daily diary.
I'm particularly keen on visiting the Tattersalls facilities in both England and Ireland. In England, we'll be at Newmarket, which is known simply as “The Headquarters” in English racing circles. Racing at Newmarket dates back as far as 1174, and is, without a doubt, the centerpiece of racing, training, breeding and selling Thoroughbreds in England. The area features two racecourses, miles of grass gallops, a world-renowned equine health center, more than 60 stud farms, the National Horseracing Museum, and Tattersalls, the world's oldest equine auction house. If they have adequate Internet service, I may ask Ray if I can find a cottage and live out my days working from there.
In Ireland, we will get to see an actual sale in action. The Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale is considered the top National Hunt auction, this year featuring a catalog of 517 three-and-four-year-olds. Having attended the sales at Keeneland, I'm anxious to see how things compare in Ireland.
While on the Emerald Isle, the itinerary also includes a visit to the world-famous breeding operation, Coolmore Stud, and to Ballydoyle, the training center that is the home base for trainer Aidan O'Brien.
Along the way in both countries, we'll be meeting with people who work in all aspects of racing, including trainers, owners, bookmakers, bloodstock insurance agents, accountants, marketing experts – you name it. It will be a busy, memorable and highly informative two weeks.
I'm heading overseas with an open mind about what I might discover. This is where modern horse racing traces its roots, and after the years I've spent learning the sport's history, to see these historic venues in person will cap off a wonderful education.
If you're curious about any specific aspects of racing in the UK and Ireland, I'll be happy to try to get your questions answered. Perhaps those who've spent time in the world of British racing or live there now can provide some additional perspective.
As for me, I can hardly wait to discover it for the first time.
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