Racing is a multimillion-pound industry supporting over 85,000 jobs, according to the British Horseracing Authority. It is the nation's second largest spectator sport with over five million people visiting British racecourses every year.
The industry provides employment for people who care for and train racehorses on their journey through life, right through to the teams of people that make a race day happen and the work that goes on behind the scenes.
Working with racehorses will require a good general level of fitness and horsemanship skills. Thoroughbreds are hot blooded horses bred for agility and speed, generally known for being spirited and bold, so working with them requires confidence and a calm, empathetic approach.
Examples of careers in racing
Careers in the racing industry include grooms, trainers, handlers, riders and jockeys, stewards, ground staff, officials, welfare officers, marketing executives, journalists, event managers and agents – that’s just to name a few!
If you want to work directly with horses, you can choose to work in a racing yard or a thoroughbred stud farm.
Working as a groom requires dedication and passion. Responsibilities can include exercising horses, care and management of horses, handling young stock, transportation, assisting trainers and jockeys with preparation at race days and supervision of other staff if you have a more senior role. There are riding and non-riding roles available in most racing yards and many yards will employ people in specialist roles to work with racehorses on treadmills, and in swimming pools and therapy spas.
The role of the work rider is to exercise and school racehorses up to and including race fitness. The job does not generally involve routine yard duties. Work riders are highly skilled horsemen and women, able to assess a horse’s level of fitness, ability and preferred type of going. They are usually paid according to experience or, if working in a freelance capacity, for the number of horses ridden, but many are employed in a full-time role within a yard.
A trainer will prepare horses for racing and requires both a licence and extensive experience in the industry. Trainers will handle and exercise horses and, as with many equestrian careers, long hours and early starts are part of the lifestyle. They should be extremely organised, diligent and have good communication skills to succeed.
Responsibilities are also likely to include preparing and evaluating training plans, assessing new horses, preparing nutrition plans, managing race entries, liaising with owners and jockeys and the business management of running a yard and developing and supervising employees.
The role of the stud manager is to run the entire stud as a business enterprise, breeding and caring for horses to race and liaising with owners and trainers. The stud manager must organise stud grooms, stud hands, and oversee the stud office. The stud manager will work closely with the secretary, stallion handlers and other key staff. The stud manager’s role will include the care of stallions, mares, foals and young stock, communicating with owners and liaising with Weatherby’s Stud Book Department.
If you are passionate about racing, but don’t fancy a practical career at a yard there are many office-based careers at yards or racecourses. For further information about careers in racing visit careersinracing.com.
How to get into racing
BHS Stage 2 Foundation Coach in Complete Horsemanship provides an in-depth foundation knowledge and understanding of equine care and management, lungeing, riding on the flat and over fences. This career certificate demonstrates you have the foundation skills to work in the industry as a groom or competently caring for and riding a variety of horses with limited supervision.
Once you have the basics covered you can then hone the skills necessary for a career in racing. The industry offers racing specific qualifications developed for the care and exercise of racehorses. 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, jockeys and ground staff. For those who want to explore the breeding side of the industry, the National Stud in Newmarket offers apprenticeships and a diploma course.
Specific entry points are available to those with prior learning, such as the Entry to Employment Programme for equine college students, and employer-led training.
Stage 4 Senior Yard Manager would support a trainer’s CV, with more knowledge of business management and the running of a successful yard, complementing the training needed for a licence to train racehorses.
- The racing industry has a great sense of community!
- Great pay and benefits including a share of yard winnings for grooms
- Even if you choose an office-based career, there are opportunities to get out and about to race days and yards
Hear from jockey Charlotte Jones
My qualifications include a first class Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science, BHS Stage 3 Care, Lunge and Ride and BHS Stage 2 Teach. I have a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management and an NVQ Level 2 in Horse Management (with riding).
Looking to the future, I would love to gain a PhD to do with the exercise physiology of performance horses and to get my racehorse trainer’s licence. Either that or to work for the anti-doping department within the British Horseracing Authority.
My advice for anyone looking to get into the racing industry is to work hard, expect long unsociable hours and don’t give up! I would encourage anyone to get an education and qualifications first that include practical skills, for example, a college course that includes a bare minimum BHS Stage 2 in Complete Horsemanship. The skills and knowledge gained from my BHS Stage 3 is extremely relevant to my job so I would highly recommend this, and I’m sure that goes for any yard job.