From Foal to Race winner Ruth Shanley and her classmates from Columba College in Killucan, County Westmeath at Punchestown Racecourse last Thursday November 16.

Killucan student marries love of horses and poetry to win day out for classmates

Killucan student Ruth Shanley and her Columba College classmates found themselves at Punchestown Racecourse on November 16, where Ruth was celebrated for her success in the Transition Year programme, Foal to Face.

Ruth’s winning entry was her poem ‘From Foal to Race’ which saw her scoop €1,000 for her school and a family pass to the Irish National Stud in County Kildare, along with a VIP behind-the-scenes trip to Punchestown Racecourse for Ruth and her classmates.

The 2023 From Foal to Race programme saw 5,334 students from 134 schools around the country participate – a 31% increase in participation since the programme launch in 2022.

Now, the race is underway to find the 2024 winner of the TY equine programme is underway.

During the visit of Ruth and her classmates to Punchestown, Equuip and Agri Aware launched the third year of the competition.

Speaking about the 2023 winning entry and looking forward to the 2024 programme, Agri Aware Chairman Shay Galvin said: “Ruth’s winning poem typifies all that the programme stands for.

“Ruth has spoken about her and her family’s love for horses and how much of an impact they had on her growing up.

“To have a programme that reaches students like Ruth that gives great opportunities for students to learn all about the horse racing industry and the journey of the thoroughbred horse from a foal to competing on the racecourse is very satisfying.”

Mr Galvin said there had been an “amazing uptake” in the programme this year and the organisers are hoping for further growth in 2024 so that Agri Aware - alongside Equuip - can reach more second level students across Ireland and to enhance their understanding of the Irish horse racing and breeding industry.

Also commenting on Ruth’s success and looking forward to the 2024 programme, Elaine Burke, equuip manager said, ““Ruth's poem was truly impressive, capturing the nurturing a thoroughbred receives to help it develop from a foal to a racehorse.

“Her words resonated with passion and demonstrated a deep understanding of the care a thoroughbred receives, leaving a lasting impression on all who experienced her work.

“The programme has grown from strength to strength since its launch two years ago, and we’re excited to keep collaborating with Agri Aware to ensure it continues to do so.”

Ms Burke said that incorporating youth into Irish Racing is essential for the future of the industry: “It ensures the continued growth and evolution of the sport, as well as the passing on of knowledge to the next generation of enthusiasts.”

From Foal to Race

Equuip and Agri Aware are proud to present transition year students with a comprehensive overview of the horse racing industry through ‘From Foal to Race’ with a strong focus on increasing awareness of the careers that feature throughout the foal to race story. Some of the featured career case studies include jockeys, digital marketing and the breeding industry.

Throughout this 12-week (1 hour per week) "From Foal to Race", programme, both teachers and students will gain insight into the horse racing industry including horse basics, horse care, the role of stud farms through interactive webinars, quizzes and a project element at the end of the programme.

2023 From Foal to Race winner Ruth Shanley and her classmates from Columba College in Killucan, County Westmeath at Punchestown Racecourse last Thursday November 16.

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