From the troubled lands of Zimbabwe to the hills of County Down. Craig Kileff is very much the face of Bluegrass Horse Feeds. Eleanor McGillie finds out more about the man who works directly with Bluegrass customers. Here's the interview with Craig in our 20th anniversary magazine, The Inside Scoop
NAME: Craig Kileff
AGE: 50 (nearly)
WHERE ARE YOU FROM:
I was born in Blantyre Malawi where my parents farmed. I then had a brief stint in Mozambique farming, where my mother likes to tell the story of how she had to set the legs of my cot in tins of parafin to stop all the creepy crawlys from sharing my bed. Our family then moved back to Rhodesia to a ranch near Victoria Falls where me and my siblings learned to swim in the Zambesi river. I come from a farming background where I developed a love for the outdoors and animals. On leaving school after O-Levels I worked in a flat racing yard in Borrowdale, Harare working for Et Halfpenny who had been a successful jockey and had then taken his success to the training ranks. To further my knowledge of the racing industry I moved to Herringswell Bloodstock Centre in Suffolk a starting yard that specialised in breaking and pre training thoroughbred racehorses for the likes of Henry Cecil and Michael Stoute. This dove tailed nicely into two years working at the legendry Warren Place for Henry Cecil in the era of Indian Skimmer and Old Vic. I returned to Zimbabwe where I continued to work in the racing industry untill opportunity on the family farm drew me home. We ran a beef herd, grew tobacco, maize and paprika successfully. Then the Mugabe administration began to wreak havoc with the agriculture sector eventually forcing us from our home and then the move to Co. Down
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF:
I am married to Sarah with a gentleman’s family - Hannah and Thomas.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO WORK WITH HORSES?
Yes. Horses have always played a central role in my life.
WHAT TOOK YOU FROM TO IRELAND:
My wife's family live here and when the land invasions in Zimbabwe forced us from the farm we took the opportunity to relocate here in 2003. Needless to say disembarking from an aeroplane on a cold, dull February day in Belfast had me questioning the decision, but, in truth, I haven't looked back since.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN BLUEGRASS?
Area Manager and Sales Representative
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOB:
I have the unique opportunity of travelling over large parts of our island meeting people who are passionate about the equine industry and the horses. As with ourselves nutrition makes a huge difference to our horses physical mental and health. The great thing about our company is that it's not just about the Usain Bolts or Tiger Rolls of our generation. We provide ideal diets with the guidance of the Kentucky Equine Research (KER) for horses and ponies in all walks of life.
WHAT AREAS OF IRELAND DO YOU COVER?
I cover the northern and eastern parts of the country.
WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU IN YOUR ROLE:
I am lucky to represent a company whose products I use and believe in. I’ve seen the difference KER formulated feeds have made to horses. It gives me great satisfaction to see the improved results and enjoyment horse owners and trainers get from using our products in terms of their physical appearance and ability and their mental and behaviour. That, alongside with the company's the history since 1847, and the strong family values at the core of the company.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE BLUEGRASS APPROACH TO CUSTOMER SERVICE? B
luegrass customer service is central to what we do. We provide an excellent product and try and back that up with a service which is second to none. Whether it's the friendly helpful office staff, the efficient and courteous drivers, the knowledgeable men in the mill making and bagging the feed, and, with the help of the state of the art equipment to the professional advice from both Ashley at head office, and the back up of the nutrional expertise of the Kentucky Equine Research, this all helps us reps on the road to help, advise and support our customers.
YOU RIDE YOURSELF. TELL US A MORE ABOUT THAT:
I play polocrosse and spend a large amount of my free time working toward being competitive on the polocrosse pitch. I’ve also tried my hand at a bit of jumping and dressage and have had some brilliant days with the Co Down Hounds drag hunts.
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR WEEKENDS:
Invariably my weekends are spent with the horses in one form or another either at a show trying to compete or at a Bluegrass sponsored show representing the company.
Bluegrass Horse Feeds is an Irish horse feed producer based at its mill in Eglish in County Tyrone. Bluegrass Horse Feeds, which produces quality and innovative horse feeds, is the Ireland Team Member of Kentucky Equine Research. The Bluegrass Horse Feeds team works closely with owners, riders and trainers using the latest nutritional research and technology to achieve optimum performance from their horses. Bluegrass distributes its feeds the length and breadth of Ireland and has over 200 stockists. If you need nutritional advice please fill out our diet request form and while you're here find out your nearest stockist.