Jan 28, 2019

Here we get to know Irishman Colum Mc Cullagh who has been recently appointed as Racing Manager following a year long wait for visa-sponsorship approval. Colum joins Snowden Racing after having worked for many world leading stud farms and thoroughbred operations.

Where were you born and raised Colum? I was born & raised in Raynestown, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath and we are about a 30 minute drive from Dublin’s CBD. Although being quite close to Dublin, it is a country area surrounded by training yards and stud farms.

What brought you to Australia? Opportunities and weather! It was December 2015 in Ireland and I was breaking yearlings at Moyglare Stud Farm in Co. Kildare, standing in the middle of a lunge ring with rain pelting down, shivering with the cold and decided that I needed a change. In January 2016 I made my way to Sydney, Australia.

How much do you love living in Australia and what do you most enjoy about the lifestyle? Australia is the land of opportunity. It is difficult to break through in the thoroughbred industry in Ireland and it seems that you get better rewarded in Australia for hard work & dedication. Not only that, the lifestyle is unbeatable. Beaches, good food, good people and lots to do.

Talk us through your career progression My father Michael raced horses (a lot of slow ones) and I supposed passed the bug down to me. In my early teens my focus was on Gaelic Football but when I was 16 I got a summer job with Platinum Bloodstock helping with their yearling sales preparation which I loved. From there I worked for Sheikh Mohammed’s Kildangan Stud assisting with the breaking of their yearlings, foaling down mares and spending time with the likes of Exceed And Excel, Helmet, Epaulette & Sepoy – three horses Peter trained ironically.

Working there helped me get a position on the Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Breeding & Management course which takes on 25 students from around the world each year. This was a huge step in my career and I learnt a lot during my time there. We used to work in the mornings with mares, foals, stallions, yearlings, weanlings, you name it! And we would have lectures each evening with vets, trainers, stud masters, and bloodstock agents etc.

I then joined Moyglare Stud which is a boutique operation in Co. Kildare that produced some great horses such as Free Eagle and Designs On Rome. Here I assisted with the breaking of their yearlings and looked after racehorses who were out having a spell or pre-training at the farm.

Following Moyglare, I flew the nest of Ireland and found myself in Australia working for Arrowfield Stud in Scone. This was a great introductory to see how things were done Down Under and I spent six months  studying the different pedigrees, assisting with their yearling preparations for the Magic Millions and Easter Sales.

I then joined Matthew C. Smith Racing in Warwick Farm as Racing Manager for almost three years. I got a great feel for the racing sector of the industry; watching trackwork, attending yearling sales, syndicating yearlings and tried stock, race programming, booking jockeys, owner communications, social media and website update, saddling up on race/trial day and more. The fact that this role was broad allowed me to get a really good grip on what is expected from a racing manager and my hands on approach definitely helped.

Who has inspired you most in your career? My mother, Marion. She brought up myself and my three siblings with a mindset to always aim high and show great attention to detail no matter what industry we ended up in. She is an honest worker and I like to think that she was successful in passing down this baton to us.

What’s your perception of the Snowden Racing Stable as a new member of the team? Snowden Racing is one of the most successful training establishments in the country if not in the world. Peter and Paul’s success on the racetrack speaks for itself and the professional manner in the way their horses and staff are presented on race day is second to none. Having won the world’s richest race on turf not once but twice in only 2 years of running, taking out multiple Group 1 races…this is a testament to the hard work and dedication that goes in behind the scenes at Snowden Racing.

What will you be bringing to the Snowden Racing team as Racing Manager? Having spent almost three years as a racing manager previously, I know what is required and how to achieve this. I hope to bring some knowledge that I have collected over the past 10 years working in the wider thoroughbred industry and my aim is to continue to take pride in helping provide the best of professional care and attention for each horse in the stable, deliver winning results and an exciting ownership experience to our clients.

Best horse you’ve seen on a racetrack? Winx

Favourite racehorse? Past: Frankel Present: Enable

What do you like to do in your down time to relax or have fun? Turn off my phone and blow off some steam at the gym. I also play Gaelic Football for Young Ireland’s in Sydney which is like AFL only with a round ball. I also enjoy spending time with my friends at the beach …it’s something you don’t get to do in Ireland very often!

Interview & image: Sarah Peatling 

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