When Carolyn Costigan saddled ROAN INISH, her first starter as a Licensed Public Trainer, she made a clear statement: Arravale Racing Incorporated means business. Few others can claim such a combination of extensive professional background with innate "horse sense". Throw in endless energy, enthusiasm, and a rigorous work ethic and you have a winner.
Renowned Irish trainer Jim Bolger, who has launched so many successful careers (including that of Aidan O'Brien, legendary trainer for Ballydoyle), said of Carolyn, his Assistant Trainer for two years, in The Irish Field:
"We will miss her greatly. She made a very valuable contribution during her time with us and we wish her every success in her future career, which I am sure will be stunning.
She is a very determined and focused young lady."
Jim Bolger was right. Carolyn has indeed made a stunning start, taking Woodbine by storm in her first year.
Roan Inish won the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes ... peak performance on the day of the race.
That attention to detail, combined with the ability to train a horse for a specific race without a prep race was again evident when a carefully planned campaign for ROAN INISH came to fruition in June 2010 with a Canadian classic win: the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks.
Born August 7, 1981 in Ireland, Carolyn grew up a horseracing enthusiast. Her family has owned and raced thoroughbreds since 1995, and Carolyn attended races from an early age.
After spending two years as an assistant trainer to world renowned trainer Jim Bolger in Ireland, Carolyn returned to Canada to train under the Arravale Racing banner for the end of the 2009 racing season.
During her time spent with Jim Bolger, Carolyn was involved in the day to day training of many of the stable's famous successes including the brilliant Epsom Derby and multiple Group l winning horse NEW APPROACH. Co-rated with Curlin at the highest level, NEW APPROACH, owned by Her Royal Highness Princess Haya of Jordan, was one of many high profile horses in the Bolger stable.
Responsible for the well being of more than 20 horses, Carolyn provided for daily care and management including but not limited to examination of legs, feet and teeth; physique maintenance, and ensuring nutritional requirements are met. Carolyn also liaised regularly with veterinarians. Carolyn rode out in up to six lots daily in addition to occasionally riding fast work for Jim Bolger.
||"I have found Carolyn to be totally honest, an excellent time keeper, enthusiastic and dedicated to the care of horses under her control. Her care and management of horses legs is excellent and she is never found wanting when it comes to dealing with the problems which involve long hours and dedication. She is very perceptive and never misses the signs of what can become serious problems if not diagnosed early."
"I have no doubt that she will be highly successful." J.S. Bolger.
An honours student, Carolyn embarked on a degree in Economics at Simon Fraser University. However, an advertisement for the Darley Flying Start Program increased her impatience to follow her true path, and she decided to postpone the degree in order to prepare for a career in horseracing. The first step was ensuring that she would meet the Program's demanding admission requirements.
The Darley Flying Start Program is the gold standard when it comes to training horseracing professionals. It is considered the equivalent of an international MBA. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 12 are selected each year. Carolyn's first step in preparing for admission was to work at the famous Windfields Farm. Under the tutelage of John Neville, Carolyn learned how to "break" and start yearlings under saddle, tack and rider-a vital period in the development of the young thoroughbred's interaction with and impressions of humans.
Her next stop was the Irish National Stud where she was one of 26 international students enrolled in the Stud Management Program in 2005. Here, Carolyn gained valuable knowledge of the production and development of thoroughbred racehorses as foals.
As a student in the Darley Flying Start Program class of 2007, Carolyn was committed to an intensive two-year course of study that combined practical experience in four international horseracing industries-Europe, North America, Australia and the Middle East.
Combined with academic study under four international accreditation bodies, Carolyn's experience in the practical settings was invaluable, as she was exposed to various training philosophies and techniques.
Her first stop was with Kiaran McLaughlin in New York, Belmont Park. While with the McLaughlin stable Carolyn worked closely with Assistant Trainer Art Magnuson throughout the day in addition to joining Kiaran as he watched the horses gallop or work in the early mornings. The time spent with Kiaran McLaughlin was invaluable as it gave Carolyn an in-depth, behind the scenes look at a top American stable in action.
At Lee Freedman's stable in Markdel, Australia, Carolyn observed the pre-training of young thoroughbreds and the preparation of older horses on grass and dirt gallops. Australian racing is characterized by a focus on speed races and the ability of trainers to "back up" or race horses in consecutive races with a short rest period. This is quite distinct from the style of training used in the USA.
Carolyn's next stop was a stint with Mike de Kock, South Africa's leading trainer, where she observed a unique training method using heart rate monitors in conjunction with an equine treadmill. Carolyn gained first-hand experience working with Mike's assistant trainers while in Dubai, and watched the preparation of horses that competed successfully against world-class thoroughbreds shipped from around the world to compete in the Dubai Racing Carnival and the Dubai World Cup.
While in Dubai, Carolyn was able to observe the preparation of young, high-quality stock at the Shadwell Racing Stable, owned and closely monitored by His Royal Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai. His Highness maintains stables around the world, and spares no expense in the preparation of his racehorses. As a result Carolyn observed innovative, cutting edge veterinary practices, results of regular spa treatments and other non-invasive treatments. This stable employed the use of synthetic surfaces, which are increasingly used by racing jurisdictions in the USA. This experience has enabled Carolyn to exercise sound judgment in selecting the veterinary services most likely to be beneficial for a particular horse.
Carolyn benefited further from time spent with a trainer whose goals and methods are quite different from those of any other trainer. A typical North American trainer's goal is to realize a quick return on investment for the owner within the first year of racing, often relying heavily on veterinary intervention to sustain the effects of a rigorous training program on the young horse's body. In stark contrast, John Oxx, trainer at the Curragh in Ireland, relies on his own sense of the individual horse as it reacts physically and mentally to the stress of training. The clients of John Oxx's Currabeg Stables have predominantly "bred to race", meaning they have bred and raised the young horse themselves intending to continue to own the horse as it races. As a result the young horse is trained with the purpose of developing an athlete and allowing for the body to cope with increased training intensity.
As a Management Trainee in the Darley Flying Start Program, Carolyn was also required to obtain certain institutional accreditations. The following qualifications resulted in Carolyn's final graduation from the Program with honours:
Racing Officials Accreditation Program
Flat Racing Official and Steward
British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust
National Vocation Qualification Level 3 in Racehorse Care and Management
Technical and Further Education School of Australia
Equine Nursing Certification
University of Limerick
Equine Science Certificate
Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management
Professional Development Program
Carolyn is poised for the next phase in the development of her already-impressive biography. She looks forward to meeting you in the Winners' Circle