Darley Flying Start Ten Year Reunion

The 2013 Darley Flying Start graduation and Ten Year Reunion ceremony took place at Kildangan House on Sunday, June 30th. Guests who attended included graduates since 2003, the parents and families of the graduating class, Darley management and thoroughbred industry leaders from the UK, USA, Ireland and Australia who have supported the Darley Flying Start program for the past ten years. Guests included Martin Mitchell, Christy Grassick, Headley Bell and Jenny McAlpine. Graduates who travelled from overseas included Ian Tapp from the USA, Ajay Anne from India, Ludovic Cornuel and Lisa-Jane Graffard from France, Henry Field from Australia, Kate Grimwade and Tina Rau from the UK and a host of Irish based graduates.

Guests arrived to a marquee set in the stunning grounds of Kildangan house at 6pm for the formal graduation ceremony. Pre-dinner drinks were served in the house followed by dinner at 8.30pm. There was a fantastic atmosphere with almost 30 graduates and a total of 150 guests in attendance. Music and dancing then followed until late.

The M.C. for the evening was 2008 graduate Gina Bryce. Gina opened proceedings by welcoming her fellow graduates back to Kildangan and congratulating the twelve graduating trainees on completing the course. Gina spoke of her own experiences of Darley Flying Start and of the achievements of graduates of the program to date. Darley Director Joe Osborne then addressed the audience. He extended his gratitude to HH Sheikh Mohammed for creating the Darley Flying Start scholarship and conveyed his best wishes and congratulations to the graduates. Joe spoke of the nature of success and commended the graduates on their support of one another as the network of Darley Flying Start alumni continues to grow. John Ferguson then addressed the guests, conveying Sheikh Mohammed’s personal message of congratulations to the graduating class. Clodagh Kavanagh described how Darley Flying Start is a unique opportunity for ambitious young people who are committed to the thoroughbred industry. She reflected on the instigation of Darley Flying Start and the pivotal role that Diana Cooper and Joe Osborne played in laying the foundations of the program. Clodagh warmly thanked the current trustees of Darley Flying Start and members of the thoroughbred industry for their support of the program. John Ferguson was then called to present the Darley Flying Start Diplomas to the twelve trainees. Tricia Calkins from the USA was applauded as the top trainee having achieved the highest overall grade of 90%.

Stephen O’Connor spoke on behalf of the graduating class, thanking Sheikh Mohammed for everything they had learned and experienced through Darley Flying Start. Tricia Calkins expressed the gratitude of the graduates of the program thus far and presented Darley Flying Start management with gifts on behalf of all of the graduates and trainees. They spoke highly about their time on the course and of the many friends, contacts and wonderful opportunities they and their fellow trainees had benefited from over the two years. Over dinner Gina conducted some impromptu interviews with graduates.

Earlier in the day the trainees hosted a stallion show and breakfast at Kildangan for their families and some graduates of previous years. The afternoon was spent racing at the Curragh.