Starting out -- charting Gavin Hernon’s plan to become a trainer

  Gavin Hernon is about to set up as a licensed trainer. He’s young, ambitious, and internationally minded.       With experience of training yards in Ireland, Newmarket, Chantilly, and the USA, Gavin is hoping to launch his career in Chantilly. Over the coming months we’re going to be charting his progress, looking at all the highs and lows of a young trainer starting out.         In his own words:       I’m 26 years of age and from Cork (Ireland). Having grown up on a stud farm, I started in the racing industry with Jim Bolger and spent four years with him whilst at school and university, where I studied international commerce with French at UCD in Dublin. I had ambitions to be a jump jockey, but during my time with Mr Bolger, it quickly became apparent to everybody that this was not what nature had intended. So, through my passion for racing and all things horses, training seemed to be the route for me and I put France on a shortlist of places to do it from.       As part of my degree, I spent a year studying in France and learned the French language and the French culture. Thanks to Christy Grassick at Coolmore, I was able to secure a pupil assistant role with André Fabre and I simply fell in love with Chantilly. It’s a picture perfect training centre. Having spent the best part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with Mr Fabre, I had my heart set on the place but was aware that with the vast array of gallops available I still had a lot to see, so in 2015 I decided to move one mile up the road to Mr Nicolas Clement. I am fortunate that both Nicolas and André  were and remain to this day great mentors to me.       For the past year, I have been based with Graham Motion working as an assistant. I worked in Fair Hill (Training Center), Maryland, during the  summer and spent the winter with his string at Palm Meadows (Training Center) in Florida. Leg maintenance, gate work, and the different medication usage were all of the utmost importance to my learning experience with Graham but above all else was the organization and diligence required to run a business of that magnitude.       Why have I chosen Chantilly?         I promise it’s not all about cheese and wine. Economics are the primary reason. The average prize money of circa €25,000 per race, coupled with up to 60% in premiums, makes it hard to look elsewhere in Europe, and I would argue that given a lower average training bill than our American and Australian counterparts, it is one of the most economically viable countries in the world in which to own a racehorse.       The sheer choice in the range of gallops in Chantilly is mind boggling. Les Lions Gallop is where I’m hoping to do much of my work. I draw a lot of similarities with it to Jim Bolger’s incline gallop. You can do different levels of intensity work.  Being surrounded by the forest is invaluable in getting these horses to relax and enjoy their work.    Fifty-five percent of France’s group winners are trained here, and I believe that is a statistic that speaks volumes.         The training centre is meticulously maintained by Matthieu Vincent, Marin le Cour Grandmaison, and the whole team there.       I could have easily chosen to train in Ireland or the United Kingdom. If I had been training back home, with one or two race meetings per day, it would be much tougher to compete with some of the big yards. If I have an average horse in France, I can travel two hours away from Paris and get away from the big trainers sporting their blue blood pedigrees and find a winning opportunity to put the horse in the right direction. And what’s more is France Galop will subsidise the cost of travelling a horse to the races for up to €3,000 per year.       Attracting owners is a challenge faced by all new trainers and one that I’m acutely aware of, but the challenge only starts there, as once an owner comes on board it becomes about retention, and that is where owner participation and communication are important to me. The proximity to one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations allows Chantilly to seamlessly fit in to a weekend break. I much rather the idea of an international owner being able to see their horse 40 minutes after getting off a plane than having to make the journey to the other side of the country.       But there are more immediate tasks at hand that require focus, attention, and hard work before getting too far down the road.         The licensing process is a bit nerve-wracking in France but I believe it’s for the best. It’s quite a lengthy process with many hurdles to cross, but you are given an intense five-week course on accounting and social security in France, which will hopefully set me in good stead.           I am also planning on looking further afield for owners, paying particular attention to China.       I would hope syndicates will become more prominent in France. Their success in Australia speaks for itself and it’s encouraging to see France Galop taking steps to make syndication more accessible in France.       I know that my eyes are going to be opened once I get going, as apart from managing the business side of things, I’ll have the horses to train, and regardless of what I say in theory it’s the results on which I will be judged.       It’s going to take a lot of hard work at every step along the way, from exams to sourcing a yard and staff, and it’s only then that the hard work of securing horses and owners formally starts. Like everyone in this business I’ll need a lot of luck along the way, but I’ve got good experience behind me and I won’t be shy about the hard work.     

Gavin Hernon is about to set up as a licensed trainer. He’s young, ambitious, and internationally minded.

With experience of training yards in Ireland, Newmarket, Chantilly, and the USA, Gavin is hoping to launch his career in Chantilly. Over the coming months we’re going to be charting his progress, looking at all the highs and lows of a young trainer starting out.

In his own words:

I’m 26 years of age and from Cork (Ireland). Having grown up on a stud farm, I started in the racing industry with Jim Bolger and spent four years with him whilst at school and university, where I studied international commerce with French at UCD in Dublin. I had ambitions to be a jump jockey, but during my time with Mr Bolger, it quickly became apparent to everybody that this was not what nature had intended. So, through my passion for racing and all things horses, training seemed to be the route for me and I put France on a shortlist of places to do it from.

As part of my degree, I spent a year studying in France and learned the French language and the French culture. Thanks to Christy Grassick at Coolmore, I was able to secure a pupil assistant role with André Fabre and I simply fell in love with Chantilly. It’s a picture perfect training centre. Having spent the best part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with Mr Fabre, I had my heart set on the place but was aware that with the vast array of gallops available I still had a lot to see, so in 2015 I decided to move one mile up the road to Mr Nicolas Clement. I am fortunate that both Nicolas and André were and remain to this day great mentors to me.

For the past year, I have been based with Graham Motion working as an assistant. I worked in Fair Hill (Training Center), Maryland, during the summer and spent the winter with his string at Palm Meadows (Training Center) in Florida. Leg maintenance, gate work, and the different medication usage were all of the utmost importance to my learning experience with Graham but above all else was the organisation and diligence required to run a business of that magnitude.

Why have I chosen Chantilly?...

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