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Career pathways in thoroughbred racing
Thoroughbred horse racing is a worldwide sport and industry, and is the second most popular spectator sport in Australia (second to Australian Rules Football or AFL).
Thoroughbred racing involves horses ridden by jockeys on racetracks, primarily over over flat courses from 800 to 3,200 metres. Hurdle and steeplechase races are run over 2,800 to 5,500 metres.
The industry injects more than $7.7 billion dollars into the Australian economy each year, and employs more than 240,000 people, 77,000 full-time.
Racing industry occupations include owners, trainers, breeders, stewards, farriers, stable employees, jockeys and track riders.
The racing industry supply chain also extends to farmers who grow and supply the feed, racing equipment manufacturers and retailers, as well as race club staff, caterers, cooks, waiters and bar attendants who work at racing venues, bookmakers, professional punters, veterinarians, manufacturers of therapeutic substances, analytical laboratories and scientists who conduct equine research from funds provided by the racing industry.
A racehorse trainer is a person who is licensed to operate a business that trains horses under racing industry regulated licensing criteria for the purpose of competing in industry-regulated events.
The trainer is responsible for the welfare, maintenance and racing performance of the animals. The trainer is responsible for designing training and racing programs for the equine athlete. Trainers are required to act for owners in advising on the purchase of livestock. This requires detailed knowledge of pedigree, conformation and animal physiology.
Also known as a stable employee, a stablehand is a person who is employed in a thoroughbred racing stable and whose prime function is to care for the animals and to meet their individual needs, such as feeding, grooming, exercising and transporting; as well as keeping the environment safe, clean and hygienic. The stablehand works under the direction of a trainer or stable supervisor.
The stablehand works as part of a team and in some situations is able to act autonomously in a limited capacity.
A track rider is a person who is employed to exercise thoroughbred horses on the instruction of a trainer. These exercising duties require judgement and the ability to interpret and relay information concerning horse health, performance and temperament accurately to the trainer as well as high-level riding skills.
A jockey is an independent professional sportsperson licensed by thoroughbred racing industry authorities to compete in industry-regulated competitions. A jockey must possess the highest level of race riding and horsedling skills, which requires problem solving skills in unpredictable circumstances.
The communication of performance and fitness of the horse to trainers and owners at the end of a race is a critical part of the jockey’s role. This requires in-depth understanding of anatomy, physiology and health of the horse applied in the context of a competitive environment.
A steward ensures that the integrity of racing is upheld. A steward will supervise the conduct of race meetings; investigate incidents and potential non-compliance issues, as well as arbitrating and awarding penalties under the principles of administrative law.
An extensive knowledge of the rules of racing; application of appropriate penalties, racing protocols, animal welfare and duty of care requirements are all part of this role.
A horse breeder requires an extensive knowledge of pedigrees, animal stud manager welfare issues, business management and the rules and regulations pertaining to the breeding of thoroughbreds.
This role is responsible for the foundation of the thoroughbred industry through pedigree match ups, coverings, foaling down and the development of the foal to produce the ‘product’ that races for billions worldwide.
An owner is the client of a trainer or stud manager who pays for the service of having their horse bred or prepared for professional competition. An owner has the responsibility of knowing and understanding not only the welfare needs of the horses that they own but also their obligations to the business of the trainer or stud manager.
* Source acknowledgement: The Australian Thoroughbred Industry, Gabrielle Gauci, International ISS Institute/DEEWR Trades Fellowship, April 2010
* Source acknowledgement: Racing and Wagering Western Australia