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'The stallions are flying at the moment and that gives me great hope'

Industry members tell us how they are managing in self-isolation

Micheál Orlandi: big Only Fools and Horses fan recommends the classic comedy
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Micheál Orlandi, who manages the Compas Stallions who stand at his Starfield Stud in County Westmeath, tells us about how he is managing – both personally and professionally – with the Irish government's lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

How is life at Starfield Stud ticking over?

Bar the obvious implications, life at Starfield Stud is super. It seems normality has been parked for the mean time but then again, the bloodstock industry is far from normal anyway!

During such surreal times, the routine with the stallions is roughly the same. They very much help to keep you sane. It occupies the mind and the body.

Thankfully, spring is here, foals are being born, mares are getting covered and nature's cycle continues. The timing is not ideal, having invested a lot in the home place but the stallions are flying and that gives me great hope.

How busy are the stallions?

Kuroshio is leading the way with numbers covered at Starfield Stud. He's ahead of himself on mares covered at this point last year and having exceeded the century last season, I couldn't be happier. His foals are pleasing breeders and the calibre of breeders utilising him is something else.

However, Cappella Sansevero is hot on his tail and he is on course to cover his best book to date. The interest in him is fascinating and has forced my hand into selling breeding rights.

The thing that both Kuroshio and Cappella Sansevero have in common is that they both bred Group winners from limited opportunities. This proven factor seems to be attracting breeders from all four corners.

Smooth Daddy seems to be setting the world alight with his first foals. The number of repeat breeders to him is a wonderful advertisement for the stallion. They have size, scope and ooze quality with top class physicals.

My Dream Boat is holding his own and the mares are really flowing into him. He is such a lovely horse to have in the yard and I really believe that he will breed winning racehorses.

If I can keep the good ship Compas afloat during such turbulent times, we are on course to have out best year to date. None of this would be possible without the support of all our loyal and new breeders. It's great when a mare arrives in to be covered; a sign of optimism during a time of such concern.

What new measures have you brought in for extra biosecurity?

I won't bore you with the details but it's all the recommended protocols. Fortunately, the stud functions with a small team.

Michael and I split up and work in different yards. We only cross paths at covering time. Paudie O'Reilly, from Mullingar Equine Vets, has his own protocols in place.

All parties are doing everything that we can to ensure the health and safety of our staff, clients, neighbours, families and friends.

Is it easy for stud staff to maintain social distancing?

Very. The routine for the stallions and the mares hasn't changed much. At the very least, we are always one length apart.

It's vital that we adhere to social distancing parameters and protocol at all times, not just on the stud. This is critical and with a small team it's easier to maintain.

Are office staff working from home, and are you managing to stay in the loop with one another?

I am the office staff and I am indeed! I always have worked from home. While things haven't changed much for me in that regard, I do hope to get my on-site office finished when this is all over.

I also have a lovely lady that does some work for me remotely, and she continues to do so.

On a personal level, how are you keeping yourself busy during lockdown?

I've never been busier, having recently developed Starfield Stud.

I have a lot of little jobs that occupy my time, the finishing touches to the stud and so on.

At times, the lockdown can make the most simple of jobs seem complicated but thankfully my main goal, getting mares in foal, is proving fairly straightforward.

Any film, TV or book recommendations to share for getting through home confinement?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with Only Fools and Horses. The old episodes are the best! If you're in need of a bit of cheer then I would recommend a visit to Nelson Mandela House in Peckham.

I also enjoy The Mighty Boosh but that's not for everyone.

If you're looking for a book recommendation and have time on your side, try One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. That might sound like a joke in the circumstances, but it really is a classic.

I recently watched The Irishman, a brilliant cast, both on and off screen. Besides that, I love spaghetti westerns.

What is the availability of groceries and essential products around you like?

Things have changed for sure, but in general we are surviving fine; Mullingar is a great country town.

With a bit of trial and error, we are cooking – sometimes even inventing – new dishes. I appreciate that everyday life must be much more difficult for young families and elderly people.

What are you most looking forward to when the Flat season returns?

The whole industry depends on the winning post so I can envisage us all toasting the winner of the first Flat race of the season, regardless of who that might be.

Outside of that, I'm excited to see Eloy D'Amerval (by Cappella Sansevero), Kurious (by Kuroshio) and Pierre Lapin (also by Cappella Sansevero).

Read more Life in Lockdown Q&As with industry figures

Richard Venn: 'The French are in a good position to get back racing sooner'

Tim Kent: 'It's difficult to plan when we don't know when racing will resume'

Russell Ferris: 'Weatherbys had contingency plans that we activated at once'

Grant and Tom Pritchard-Gordon: 'Inglis Easter has kept us busy since January'

Peter Hockenhull: 'The social side of meeting and chatting to breeders is gone'

Polly Bonnor: 'We've fulfilled every feed order, including all our exports'

Richard Lancaster: 'We're fortunate that some Shadwell staff live on site'


If I can keep the good ship Compas afloat during such turbulent times, we are on course to have out best year to date
E.W. Terms