On a sunny day in Central Kentucky, Darley Flying Start students concluded their time in the Bluegrass State by holding debates during the fifth Darley Flying Start Conference at Keeneland Race Course July 16.
Twelve students make up the 2007-2009 Darley Flying Start class, and they represent countries from around the world, including Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, and the United States.
“I came in from the Racetrack Industry Program, so I am fairly young in the industry,” said Jordyn Brand, who is from the U.S. “Every day is something new, and the people we get to meet are unforgettable. It has been an unbelievable program.”
Six topics of debate were offered, ranging from discussions on kinesiology, dosage, nicks, May and June foals, horse management “by the sign,” and astrology/horse horoscopes.
“Getting up and speaking in front of people you admire is a very good experience,” said Brand, whose assignment was to oppose horse horoscopes, the most light-hearted of the debates. “In a program like this, you have to do it. We did another one in Ireland, and everyone has improved so much. It is forcing you to grow.”
A panel of three judges scored the debates, which were closely contested. One of the judges was ESPN’s Janine Edwards, who also served as moderator.
Darley Flying Start, which was founded in 2003, is a two-year program created and funded by Sheikh Mohammed. Through the program, students receive the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the Thoroughbred industry in both classroom and hands-on settings at farms around the world.
“It was the brain child of Sheikh Mohammed; he is such a proponent of education,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Darley USA. “It has been a tremendous opportunity for the students, but it has also been a great thing for all of our various farms. The way it has grown, it has been amazing to watch.”
After receiving a short break, the students will continue the program in Australia.