Tuesday, March 23, 2021

‘Follow your dreams’- Ireland Cheltenham hero Rachael Blackmore’s message for young girls


            Jockey Rachael Blackmore with the 'Ruby Walsh Trophy' after being confirmed as the 

        leading jockey at the Cheltenham Racing Festival. Photo by: Hugh Routledge/Sportsfile

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Two years after her first Cheltenham Festival win, Rachael Blackmore is now the second most successful jockey, after Ruby Walsh, at the world-famous jumps racing meeting. Plaudits soon amassed after her Champion Hurdle win aboard the 7-year-old mare, Honeysuckle, on day one and Rachael was on the front page of every newspaper the following morning.  She became the most welcome breath of fresh air jumps racing has seen in decades – a feel good story born from the heart of determination and integrity.  Rachael top and tailed the second day with winners Bob Olinger and Sir Gerhard, the third day aboard Allaho and Telmesomethinggirl and the final day with Quilixios.  She was a close second on A Plus Tard in the ultimate stayers race, The Gold Cup.

Twenty times champion jumps jockey, AP McCoy, has stated that she has single handily changed the face of racing.  Her success was the lift needed, and while Rachael would prefer to be recognised as a good jockey rather than a good female jockey, it would be remiss to denounce the impact she has potentially made for women in the sport.  She has broken new ground being the first woman to secure the coveted top jockeys’ award.  She has smashed the glass ceiling and the future will tell us of the true extent of the Rachael effect.

Rachael is once again second on the Irish jockeys leaderboard, with 5 wins separating her from her old rival Paul Townend with the Irish National Hunt season culminating at the end of April.   The 2015 equine science graduate has already filled us with more pride than we could ever have imagined.  A consummate professional, unassuming and with the sharpest of judgement we wish her the very best for what will be no doubt a brilliant future.  

Amy Fitzgerald

Equitation Teacher 

Department of Biological Sciences
School of Natural Sciences

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

EDUCATION FEATURE 2021: Endless options at University of Limerick


Bachelor of Science in Equine Science at UL offers students choice within the course as well as an eight-month work placement

THE B.Sc degree in Equine Science at the University Limerick is perfect for students looking to pursue a career in the equine industry. The course is run over four years and gives students a wide range of choice to specialise. It also offers a two-year Certificate in Equine Science. This programme offers students the flexibility to progress to the Diploma in Equine Science and subsequently to the final year of the degree programme.

During first year students take general modules including biology, chemistry, microeconomics and equine reproduction and equine anatomy and physiology. There is an increased focus on equine learning in second year. Students study feeding and behaviour, nutrition, health and disease and much more. Non-equine subjects in second year include marketing and financial decision making.

Students begin to specialise in the third year. They choose between equine business management or equitation. Third year also include a cooperative education placement. This is an eight-month work placement students complete in an equine or equine-related enterprise.

Students doing the equine business management option develop their business knowledge, enterprise formation and development, strategic management, risk management, and business consulting. Students completing the equitation option are offered modules in young horse, equestrian facilities, performance rider development and training and managing the performance horse. Both equine business management and equitation students are required to complete a research project on an aspect of the industry as part of their fourth and final year.

The careers prospects from the course are endless and the choice offered within the course means students can tailor their learning to their own interests. There are also postgraduate options available for students who wish to continue to their education. Past students have gone on to work in a variety of roles including equine enterprise management, sports journalism, state and semi-state equine-related organisations and equine-related service industry. Last year’s CAO points requirement for the degree was 339 and 337 for the certificate.


Sean Flannery, Goffs Bloodstock Manager, BSc in Equine Science graduate

Having grown up around horses I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career involved in racing. The BSc in Equine Science at the University of Limerick afforded me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the horse and the many sports they compete in.

The option to take business or the equitation route after second year offers excellent choice and was instrumental in my decision to choose Equine Science over similar courses. There is an ideal balance of group and individual work throughout the course and it prepares you for working as part of a team as well as using your own initiative in the working world.

The co-operative education placement proved invaluable to me during my time studying. I split my placement between Coolmore Australia and Goffs in Kildare. I was lucky enough to secure an intern position at Goffs upon graduating.

Completing the Equine Science course armed me with the skillset necessary to gain employment as well as advance my career in Goffs. The range of modules covered on the programme is extensive and I found the practical elements perfectly compliment the theory taught.

This course provides students with both skills and knowledge that can be applied to many different areas within the equine world and beyond. The broad spectrum of modules on offer from equine anatomy and physiology to the various business management modules ensured that I was well equipped to deal with my varied roles in Goffs, where I am now Bloodstock Manager.

Orla Driver, Registration Manager Coolmore/Castlehyde Stud, Certificate in Equine Science graduate

The Equine Science Certificate course appealed to me as it offered a variety of subjects across different fields within the horse industry, from science to business management.

I had worked as an apprentice jockey for a prestigious trainer in the Curragh and travelled to Italy where I managed a small racing yard. On my return to Ireland I registered for the Certificate programme. I enjoyed my time in the University of Limerick immensely.

Course leaders and lecturers provided great support and encouragement. I took my co-operative education placement at Del Mar Racetrack, California and I also spent a season working with mares and foals at Castlehyde Stud. There I got the opportunity to experience the breeding aspect of the Industry and it allowed me the opportunity to experience the practical side of our scientific modules.

On completion of the certificate and diploma courses I returned to Castlehyde Stud where I was given the opportunity to travel to Coolmore Stud Australia to work with their team. I am currently responsible for the management of the registration department in Castlehyde Stud.

My responsibilities include overseeing administration, reporting to management, updating data on mares and foals, liaising with various organisations locally and internationally and updating clients on a daily basis. I am proud to be working as part of a team with one of Ireland’s leading organisations within the breeding industry.

The certificate programme at the University of Limerick provided me with the stepping stones to further my knowledge and experience in this industry in preparation for a rewarding career.

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CAO points 2020  Degree 339, Certificate 337

Bachelor of Science in Equine Science