The racing industry is a diverse and exciting world to work in. Races watched by millions of people, such as the Grand National, are the result of work by a huge number of people and organisations. The industry provides work for people who care for and train the horse on its journey through life, right through to the teams of people that make a race day happen and work that goes on behind the scenes.
There are two schools in the UK dedicated to racing – The British Racing School in Newmarket and the Northern Racing College in Doncaster. They offer training from apprenticeships right up to management courses for racehorse trainers and groundstaff. For those who want to explore the breeding side of the industry, the National Stud in Newmarket offers apprenticeships and a diploma course.
Stable Staff / Yard Staff / Head Staff
To work in a racing yard or stud farm you need dedication and a passion for horses, as the work involves early starts and long days. It may include lots of riding and handling, which may be stallions or youngstock, so a good level of general fitness and horsemanship skills are essential.
• Exercise of horses
• General horse care
• Handling youngstock
• Transportation of horses to race days
• Assist trainer and jockeys on race days
• Supervision of other staff (if in a senior role).
If you are over 19 years old, you'll need no formal training or qualification needed - hiring is at the employer's discretion.
If you are under 19, it's compulsory to complete the nine-week course at the British Racing School where you will complete Level 2 Work Based Diploma in Racehorse Care; or the Northern Racing College, where you will complete a Level 1 Diploma. Once employed or on an apprenticeship you can then work towards further qualifications.
A jockey is someone who rides horses as a means of racing them for a professional business. They are self-employed and paid to ride someone’s horse - then they are given a cut of the winnings. Becoming a jockey means that the rider has to stick to a certain weight limit, and be able to sustain that weight while keeping healthy. The weight required varies depending on the race (flat or jump) or status of the jockey.
Jockeys have to be motivated, fit and able to demonstrate good horsemanship skills.
• Winning races (the jockey's primary role!)
• Liaising with the trainer to implement a riding plan and to execute a planned routine for the race
• Exercising horses for trainers
• Keeping fit and healthy.
Under the Rules of Racing, the British Horse Racing Authority requires Apprentice (flat) and Conditional (jump) jockeys to undergo mandatory training. The first stage to becoming a Jockey is to be employed full-time by a Trainer. You will then be able to work towards the courses below at either the British Racing School or Northern Racing College:
• Apprentice or Conditional License Course
• Apprentice or Conditional Continuation Course
• Apprentice or Conditional Intermediate Course
These courses last between four and five days with intensive riding and lectures that include topics such as nutrition and fitness, the rules of racing, riding technique, sports science, sport psychology and media training.
You'll need to have completed a Work Based Diploma in Level 2 Racehorse Care before your training.
A trainer will prepare horses for racing and run a yard of their own. This will include handling and riding/exercising horses, so a good level of fitness and horsemanship skills are required. Early starts and long hours are not unusual. You must be extremely organised, diligent and have good communication skills.
• Preparing and evaluating training plans
• Assessing new horses
• Preparing diet plans for horses
• Entering horses for races, booking jockeys, liaising with owners
• Running a yard – supervising staff, book keeping, invoicing etc
• Transporting horses to race days.
To be a trainer you must apply for your licence via the British Horseracing Authority and complete the three Trainers Modules at the British Racing School or the Northern Racing College. There are no other formal qualifications required, but experience is essential for this role and working at as many race yards as possible is extremely helpful.
Formal qualifications that are mandatory include:
• Level 3 Work Based Diploma in Racehorse Care and Management
• Attendance of 3 Trainers Modules covering Racehorse Management, Business Management and Staff Management.
Formal qualifications that are useful include:
• BHS Stage 4 care (includes knowledge of running an equine yard).