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Cunningham gets Flying Start with Godolphin

Liam Cunningham and 2022 New Zealand Derby winner Asterix as a yearling. - Photo: Trish Dunell
Liam Cunningham and 2022 New Zealand Derby winner Asterix as a yearling.

Photo: Trish Dunell

Godolphin has selected a dozen up-and-comers from around the world for the 2022-2024 edition of its Flying Start programme, including Liam Cunningham.

He will be joined by 11 others from around the world including fellow kiwi Annabel Adams. Beginning in August at Kildangan Stud in County Kildare, Ireland, the two-year programme gives trainees the opportunity to learn and experience management operations and leadership in the global thoroughbred industry with phases in Ireland, the UK, the USA, Australia, and Dubai.

The course is accredited by University College Dublin Michael Smurfit Business School as a Graduate Certificate in Management. Over half of Godolphin Flying Start graduates have gone on to become managers, CEOs, or business founders, and they are based across five continents, working in media, racing, breeding, bloodstock, sales, consultancy, veterinary and marketing.

The Flying Start invitation brought years of hard work to fruition for 23-year-old Cunningham.

“The Flying Start programme is a massive opportunity for any young, aspiring person in our game, to travel around the world for two years, working with and learning from the best,” he said.

“It was a no-brainer, really – from the time that I found out about the course, it was a goal that I had set for myself.

“It’s massively exciting. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and any young, aspiring person would do their utmost to be part of it.

“The support and congratulations that I’ve received from various people has been immense. It really gives you a perspective on how big the Flying Start programme is. It’s followed all around the world, from Ireland to Kentucky and Australia and New Zealand, and the acknowledgement from people all around the world has been huge.”

Cunningham has had a quality grounding in the thoroughbred industry, being a son of Curraghmore’s Gordon Cunningham.

“I was born into the industry, growing up on my father’s farm in the heart of the Waikato and plying my trade there through school holidays,” he said.

“Then I went off and started an agricultural commerce degree at Massey University, and after I finished that, I worked for Te Akau Racing over in Matamata for a year learning more about the racing side of our industry.”

Liam Cunningham is the fourth from Curraghmore's roster to have been accepted on the prestigious course, joining Scott Calder, Todd Pollard and Emma Coleman on the list of successful applicants. -NZ Racing Desk/Curraghmore


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