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The first Thoroughbred Breeding course was held in the Irish National Stud in 1971 and it remains the best-known equine training programme to this day. The aim of the course is to educate young people for a career in the thoroughbred industry, and many graduates have been prominent in stud farms throughout the world, racehorse training, bloodstock sales, insurance and the media. Unlike University based programmes, our training is mainly of a practical nature and is designed to provide students with a hands-on approach to every aspect of horse breeding. The course is full-time residential and starts in February each year. It involves yard work during the day and a lecture each evening, culminating in exams and prize giving in July.




The practical aspects of the breeding industry are demonstrated as students rotate around the yards on a weekly basis, spending time in the stallion barn, foaling unit and laboratory. In the evening, lectures are given by the stud staff and others involved in the bloodstock industry and cover a variety of topics from yard management to business administration.

The syllabus varies slightly from year to year, but generally covers all aspects of the science and art of horse breeding.

In the latter part of the course, visits are arranged to other stud farms, racing stables, sales companies, etc, and students are encouraged to interact with their personnel to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of each business area.

Written, oral and practical exams are held at the end of the course and successful candidates receive the Irish National Stud certificate which is recognised throughout the bloodstock world.




All students are accommodated in the student lodge on the farm with meals provided in our own canteen by professional staff.


HTBA Scholarship: (Applications close 1st October)

Applicants must be employed and referred by Management of a Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeding Business (with HTBA membership). The Scholarship includes flights from Australia and return, required equipment, course fee tuition and Visa application. Successful applicants are required to return to their current employer for a minimum 1 year following their return on completion of the course scholarship. Applicants are responsible for their own passport and travel insurance.



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Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, awarded the 2023 Irish National Stud Breeding Course scholarship to Lachlan Bruce of Arrowfield Stud . Lachlan has been involved in the thoroughbred industry most of his life and the Messara family of Arrowfield Stud could not have been more proud of his achievements.


The HTBA scholarship has boosted many students going on to have hugely successful careers in the breeding industry and remained in the Hunter Valley. This opportunity of a life-time will see yet another HunterBred team member heading off in 2024 to gain valuable experience and further knowledge in many aspects of Thoroughbred Breeding and Racing during their time in Ireland. 

Each year the HTBA receives an amazing line up of high-quality applicants, a true credit to the studs proving the Hunter Valley is both a productive nursery of champion thoroughbreds and young leaders of the future. "We could have easily send all three finalists each year" Sub-Committee Chairman Barley Ward-Thomas said. The Hunter Valley has always prided itself in sending outstanding calibre students to the INS breeding course each year and is proud to have had such a long-standing scholarship available.


“The high calibre of candidates we send each year highlights the strong competition for this prestigious scholarship.  The HTBA is confident the next successful applicant will be a great ambassador for both the Hunter Valley and Australia.


Graduates will join a long list of HTBA sponsored successors to the INS Course. Most recent graduates include Jessica Bailey (Yarraman Park 2022)  Rachel Thompson (Barador Stud 2020), Tyler Frazer (Godolphin 2019), Georgie Cavanough (Vinery 2018), Damien Fitton (Arrowfield 2016) and Silver medal winner Kate Curran (Vinery 2015). Scholarship recipients return to their Studs to carry out the Breeding Season on completion of the course, gaining the knowledge from the course giving the industry in the Hunter Valley another valuable assets and high calibre team member.


The HTBA, encourages all previous applicants to consider applying for this round of the scholarship.



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