The se­nior barn man­ager: Ric­cardo Corona

Friday - - In The Uae -

This Ital­ian’s job makes him the epi­cen­tre of all that hap­pens in a barn. From over­see­ing the var­i­ous as­pects of horse care, in­clud­ing ex­er­cise sched­ules, vet vis­its, and the diet of the horses, to man­ag­ing the barn staff and lo­gis­tics. Ric­cardo, who has been in the com­pany for 14 years, en­sures it all hap­pens smoothly.

Tell us more about horses. Horses, like kids, find new en­vi­ron­ments a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing. So the big lights, crowds and the noise at a horse rac­ing arena like Mey­dan’s can be quite daunt­ing for a horse and could make them anx­ious be­fore the big race. So we take them to the arena a few times be­fore­hand and en­sure that they are fully com­fort­able and happy in the sur­round­ings and are not dis­tracted or con­cerned by what is hap­pen­ing around them.

Have you come across a horse that is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult? As ev­ery horse is dif­fer­ent, the chal­lenge they of­fer is unique too. What can make a dif­fer­ence is the age at which the horse has come to us. Those that are born in our sta­bles are like an open book, no sur­prises, but if a horse comes to us when he is much older, then it can be dif­fi­cult to change its habits and make him fol­low in­struc­tions. There are no bad horses, just bad habits.

Have horses been a vi­tal part of your life? I was born and raised in a stud farm south of Rome. Both my par­ents worked on the farm. While my fa­ther was a stud groom, my mother was re­spon­si­ble for all the new­borns. So work­ing with horses was kind of a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion.

That’s like many oth­ers here, who have been around horses most of their lives. To us horses are a pas­sion, if we were not work­ing with them, we would be rid­ing them as a hobby. The long hours, the in­ten­sive work sched­ules – ir­re­spec­tive of rain, snow or sun­shine – can be quite de­mand­ing, but I guess it is like that for any ath­lete. When you’ve grown up in the en­vi­ron­ment, it is eas­ier to ac­cept its chal­lenges and de­mands.

So pas­sion scores over aca­demics for you? It is a job that one learns with ex­pe­ri­ence, not through a text­book. A book can teach you about the anatomy of a horse, but when you come face to face with an an­i­mal, then it is your ex­pe­ri­ence that counts.

This sounds ex­tremely busy. Where does the fam­ily fit into this equa­tion? I am lucky. My wife is a vet­eri­nar­ian so she un­der­stands what my job en­tails and the long hours this kind of job comes with. My kids love horses too. They ride ponies and fol­low horse rac­ing, so they too are caught by the pas­sion and ex­cite­ment of it all.

To us horses are a PAS­SION. If we were not work­ing with them, we would be RID­ING them as a HOBBY

Have you had a sit­u­a­tion that you feel has been very chal­leng­ing? Not re­ally. I feel like a lit­tle kid who loves foot­ball and gets a chance to play with his favourite team. It is dream come true for

me, a man who comes from a small farm. What an un­be­liev­able jour­ney.

How do horses travel long dis­tance? The way horses are moved around the world has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the years. Godol­phin was one of the pi­o­neers as our horses started trav­el­ling ex­ten­sively from the early 1990s. They are loaded in their horse­box, go to the air­port, and are then trans­ferred into a much larger crate, not that dif­fer­ent from their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. They are pro­vided with all the care they need, lots of food and wa­ter. They are ac­com­pa­nied through­out the flight by fly­ing grooms. Now the horses are so used to trav­el­ling from an early age they re­ally don’t get anx­ious. They do get slightly tired but after a cou­ple of days’ rest, they are fine. They let you know when they are OK again.

Your favourite mem­ory? Prince Bishop win­ning the World Cup in 2015. He is spe­cial for many rea­sons. When he won the race, he was eight years old, which in the rac­ing world makes him quite old. He was not the kind who would lead from the very be­gin­ning as he would take time to warm up, but then he would al­ways fin­ish strong. He was a tes­ti­mony to all of Shaikh Mo­ham­mad and Saeed’s hard work, faith and pa­tience.

Race­horses fol­low spe­cial di­ets, and wear pro­tec­tive ban­dages at night to pre­vent them from in­jur­ing them­selves

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