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 20 October)

Applicants must be employed and refered by Management of a Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeding Business (HTBA member). 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.




Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, awarded the 2020 Irish National Stud Breeding Course scholarship to local lass Ms Rachel Thompson of Barador Stud in Martindale. 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 the locally born and raised Rachel, gaining valuable experience and further knowledge in many aspects of Thoroughbred Breeding and Racing during her time in Ireland. Both Mr Thew and Mr Ward-Thomas feel confident that she will be yet another great ambassador for the HTBA.


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 sent all three finalists this year" Sub-Committee Chairman Mike Thew 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 again this year highlights the strong competition for this prestigious scholarship.  The HTBA congratulates Rachel and wishes her every success with the course.  We are confident that Rachel will be a great ambassador for both the HTBA and Australia.” Mr Thew said.


Rachel joins a long list of HTBA sponsored graduates to the INS Course. Most recent graduates include 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 member of staff.


The HTBA, congratulates all applicants and encourages them to consider applying for the 2021 application round next year.