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16 September 2022

Anna Kerr brought rounded knowledge and adaptability to her role running the National Stud in Newmarket. Opening the Stud to the community and showcasing the depth of career opportunities sit high up on her to-do list.

No two days are the same in my role at the National Stud, no two days have been the same in any job I have had in the industry! I was lucky enough to grow up in the bloodstock world as my father Bert is a bloodstock agent and was training at Summerseat Stables in Co Meath when I was born. We all went racing regularly from a young age but it was always the sales that I loved and my first ‘job’ was writing the results in Dad’s catalogue at Tattersalls Ireland in Fairyhouse. School was never my sweet spot and I always found it easier to be outside with our horses at home, anywhere but in the classroom.

Grasping the opportunities

Since completing the Irish National Stud course in 2007, I have worked in various areas in the racing industry. From there I went straight into Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and then spent four years at Leopardstown Racecourse. I used all of my holiday days to go to the sales in the UK and Ireland and went racing everywhere I could. Horses in training for international export were Dad’s main focus at that time so I also worked with him on sourcing those prospects and building a network of international contacts. In 2012 I left Leopardstown to work with the bloodstock consultant Paul Moroney and spent two years assisting him at international sales with particular focus on yearlings and horses in training. It was an incredible experience where I learned from one of the best in the industry. My next position was at Goodwood as an Account Manager, primarily managing the Qatar account in the first year of their partnership. This was an amazing experience and the most wonderful team to work with.

The opportunity to develop a horseracing sponsorship and activation portfolio took me to my next  position as Head of Communications and Partnerships at Matchbook; it was important for me to see things from the other side of the coin. The gambling sector is such a huge stakeholder and customer in racing, so it is massively beneficial to understand it from the inside out.

Selling the benefits of being outdoors and working with animals

My journey to the National Stud in Newmarket in 2020 was with a focus to develop the Education programme. We run courses throughout the year training stud staff at all levels – from those who may never have touched a horse before to senior yard supervisors and stud grooms who are looking to expand their skill set.

My role now as CEO is developing the long-term strategic direction of the Stud and our role within the industry. As part of The Jockey Club, we are governed by Royal Charter to act for the long-term good of British racing and so incorporate that into everything we do. A big part of that role is showcasing all aspects of the racing world to the wider public and we primarily do this through our Discover Newmarket tours. The Education team also work closely with community groups and organisations, arranging talks and tours to showcase not only the career opportunities our industry has to offer but also the benefits of being outdoors and working with animals on a day-to-day basis.

Tough but rewarding work

We have a young stallion roster including Time Test, a Juddmonte home bred son of Dubawi and Lope Y Fernandez, the only son of Lope de Vega currently at stud in the UK. Time Test got off to a flying start with his first 2yos in 2021 and we are very excited about the future for him. Lope Y Fernandez covered his first book of mares this year and has taken to the job very well while demonstrating excellent fertility rates; we are looking forward to seeing his first foals in 2023.

Alongside standing quality, accessible stallions the ongoing shortage of stud staff is a key area of focus for our team. We are constantly looking at ways to bring new recruits into the industry and demonstrate the vast career opportunities on offer. The Stud year can be relentless with very little down time between the breeding season and the sales, but it is hugely rewarding. Seeing students assisting with their first foaling or leading a horse through the sales ring for the first time, and the unique high it gives them is just fantastic. The international opportunities cannot be over-emphasised, we have links with studs all around the world and completing one of our courses is essentially a passport to travel – just choose where you want to go.  For more information see  

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