Mitchell Whelan can’t wait to pack his bags and head offshore this winter to add further overseas experience to his resume.
The 23-year-old is still coming down to earth after being named in the latest intake of trainees for the prestigious two-year Godolphin Flying Start Thoroughbred Industry Management and Leadership Program.
“I’m just rapt, it’s pretty awesome and I’m still letting it sink in a wee bit to be honest,” he said.
The Flying Start class of 2023/25 also features trainees from Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and America with the program to start at Kildangan Stud, Ireland, on August 14.
Whelan has enjoyed a taste of travel in his current role as a foreman with Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh.
“I’ve worked for Stephen since I finished university and I’m based in the main barn. I go to a lot of races and trials and went over to Australia with our Derby horse Andalus,” he said.
“I started off with Cambridge Stud when I was at high school and did holidays with Sir Patrick initially and then did four yearling preparations with Brendan and Jo Lindsay.
“While I was at university I also worked for White Robe Lodge in Mosgiel and for Terry and Debbie Kennedy in the mornings.
“I came back up here for the last two years during my summer breaks to work for Stephen and finished university in July of last year and have been full-time since then.”
Whelan attended the University of Otago where he completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Science majoring in Sports Management and Development.
He doesn’t have any family history in the thoroughbred industry and his interest was initially piqued by former long-time Cambridge Stud Manager Marcus Corban.
“Marcus is a good family friend and I needed a holiday job while I was at school and he got me in and I’ve been hooked ever since and a job turned into a hobby and then a passion,” Whelan said.
He now has the international opportunity to broaden his thoroughbred horizons with his fellow Flying Start trainees to learn and experience further practical horsemanship, management operations and leadership within the industry.
The course is accredited by the University College Dublin Michael Smurfit Business School as a Graduate Certificate in Management and will take in phases in Ireland, the United Kingdom, America, Dubai and Australia.
Over half of Godolphin Flying Start graduates have gone on to senior management roles, Chief Executive Officers or business founders and based across five continents working in media, racing, breeding, bloodstock, sales, consultancy, marketing, welfare and advocacy.