Discovering Arrowfield, Part 2 by Hannah Marks

Hannah Marks is an Irish trainee in her second year on the Godolphin Flying Start programme, where she is completing her four week work placement with the Head Office at Arrowfield Stud. Godolphin Flying Start is an international two year management and leadership training programme that combines a dynamic range of lectures, visits, hands-on experience in Ireland, England, USA, Australia, and Dubai. Hannah describes her experience of discovering Arrowfield.


Photo: Hannah with Arrowfield photographer Bronwen Healy 

Following my work rotation on the farm at Arrowfield, I knew I wanted to work in their head office in Sydney to better understand their stallion marketing techniques and the sales promotion process. After the Godolphin Flying Start I hope to be able to have a career involved in nominations, sales and marketing and I feel with Arrowfield being one of the biggest farms in Australia, and having a leading stallion roster, I had the best chance of learning as much as I could. I worked under Flying Start graduate, Vicky Leonard, who introduced me to a number of the different projects that were currently underway. I got to know the whole team in the office including John Freyer, Andy Williams and sat down with John Messara himself.

The work at the office was never dull and the routine was always dynamic. I had regular trips to the farm, seeing horses with clients, stallion shows, and stallion promotional work. The three hour drive into the Hunter Valley doesn’t seem so bad now, but when I think of it in terms of back home, it would be half way across the country.

Photo: Inspections of Arrowfield yearlings with the management team

I also had the great opportunity to spend a few days with Bronwen Healy when she came to photograph the stallions, even though most of it was spent running around paddocks in 30 degree heat after horses to get the right picture. I can now add professional horse positioner and horse distractor to my resume. My only advice, invest in a horse noise app for your phone; it does a lot of the work for you! I learnt to always appreciate those golden hours of dawn and dusk and how to get just the right shot of horses.

Photo: Attempting to position horses for photographing

I had the chance to shadow Andy and John when they went to look at the farm’s racing stock at trainers and at the trials. This is an important part of the business when you are regularly talking with clients. The trials are a great way to to school nervous horses and something that the Australian industry has really capitalised on. Another aspect I liked about Australian racing was the fact the majority of horses race competitively every two weeks. This means that you get to see your favourite horses more and develop a stronger relationship when cheering them to the finish line.

Working as part of the Arrowfield team I got the chance to be involved in some of the marketing projects, from research and project proposal, to sitting in on a number of meetings to see how projects develop. I learnt a lot of new marketing tactics and different marketing strategies for stallions and ad campaigns. One of the main campaigns I helped with was Dundeel’s Magic Millions adverts. It was great to see various processes in action and be part of the projects as they progressed.


Photo: Dundeel advertising campaign for Magic Millions

I worked closely with the team developing content and various proposals for management, setting forward drafts with the outline, benefit and challenges that are associated with the projects. Many of the plans weren’t only for the sole benefit of Arrowfield either. I was involved in a few proposals that were steered toward the industry overall and just showed how involved an organisation can be within an industry. Overall I learnt a lot more about the Australian thoroughbred industry, from a current standing to a historical overview. I looked at the influence of Australia in other markets, and the impact the international thoroughbred markets have had on Australia itself.

My time in Australia has gone too fast. I got to see races at the country tracks and the biggest metropolitan meet in the country, to the sales and tours of the many farms in the Hunter Valley and Victoria. It is too hard to be able to pick out a single highlight of the phase but there are many great memories I will take home with me.Working with Arrowfield will be one of these, as my time on the farm and in the office has given me some great experiences.

I have loved Australia. From the enthralled public during Melbourne Cup week and seeing some amazing racing, including the great Winx, to the wonderful stud farms and the people in the industry, I will certainly take back a lot of experiences. I have seen enough kangaroos to last me a lifetime, swam in the Great Barrier Reef, and watched colonies of fruit bats fly home to roost. Because why have crows when you can have bats. However, I am ready to go home, a winter Christmas is waiting!

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