"TO me, the best thing about working with horses in the thoroughbred breeding industry is that the mares you work with are the champions of the past, and the foals that they produce could well be the champions of the future. It's really exciting to see that."
At 21, Amy Taylor is a champion herself, seemingly headed for a top-flight career in a multi-million-pound international business. She was the top UK student on last year's National Stud diploma course on the thoroughbred horse-breeding industry. Her prize was a return airfare anywhere in the world.
Amychose to go to the United States, and Juddmonte Farms in Lexington, Kentucky. Juddmonte, which has stud farms in the UK, Ireland and USA, is one of the world's leading breeding and racing operations.
"I work on the brood-mare side of the farm where I'm responsible for the daily care of mares and foals, including monitoring their health carefully," she says.
Juddmonte breeds its own horses, starts their basic training on the farm, then sends them to trainers who race them. Then, when a horse has finished racing, it's brought home to the farm to breed from. In the UK, thoroughbred breeding employs about 12,000 people.
Amy adds: "I've been interested in horses for as long as I can remember, and was lucky enough to have a pony or a horse all the time I was growing up."
Miss Taylor grew up in Southend, not the Essex seaside resort of that name, but "a tiny little village on the Mull of Kintyre". Before FE beckoned, she lived in Southend with her elder sisters Julie and Tracy and their parents, father Donald, now a retired dairy farmer, and Eve, a part-time florist.
"I had horses at home all the time when I was a child, but before I went to college we had to sell them as no one would be there to exercise them while I was away," Amy says.
The journey from Argyll to Kentucky and beyond began when, after standard grades and highers at Campbell town grammar school, she went on to Oatridge agricultural college in West Lothian and an HND in horse management. It was during this time that Amy first went to the National Stud, for a spell of work experience.
After Oatridge, she headed back to the National Stud, based at the HQ of racing, Newmarket in Suffolk. Here, she distinguished herself on the diploma course, which she describes as "brilliant, hard work and well worth it because it taught me so much about the horse-breeding industry".
Equally, Amy is fondly remembered at the National Stud, where they see a great future for her.
Caroline Turnbull, National Stud education manager, says: "Amy is a bright and hardworking young woman who I am sure will make a success of her career in the thoroughbred breeding industry."
So where and what next for Amy Taylor? "Well," she says, "bloodstock agency is one option. I loved going to the yearling sales in Newmarket, and would like to see the throroughbred horse industry from the buying as well as the selling side.
"But there are lots of options open to people who have done a college course as well as practical training, especially The National Stud course, which is so well recognised.
" It's also fantastic to be working for Juddmonte. It's one of the best in the world and has so many exceptional horses at the moment - Empire Maker's just come second in the Kentucky Derby.
"It helps your career when people recognise where you have worked, especially somewhere with standards as high as Juddmonte, because bloodlines on our farm are among the best in the world."