The journey to becoming a jockey is hard work but ultimately rewarding. Standing at an average of 150cm tall and weighing in between 53 - 58kg the level of dedication and fitness that jockey’s must maintain in order to be successful in their chosen field is often underestimated.
To demonstrate just how exciting it is to be a jockey and how much work is involved to keep ‘game fit’ we decided to run a competition between local WA sports stars to see who could get their heart rate up the highest! So we strapped heart rate monitors to WA jockey Ryan Hill, football player Brad Sheppard and tennis player Mitchell Pleydell. We then put them through their paces for an average training day in their chosen field… who do you think had the highest heart rate?
If you would like to find out further information about working in a racing training stable, training courses available in Western Australia, or Licensing requirements, please contact:
Racing Industry Training
Phone: (08) 9445 5483
Become part of an industry that has a vast variety of career opportunities available. From those who enjoy the challenge of introducing a yearling to the world of racing as a horse breaker, to those who want to work behind the scenes and work with the horses day to day to ensure they perform their best at the track, or for those who want to enjoy the thrill and adrenaline rush of controlling a 500kg animal galloping at speeds of up to 70km/h in a race – there is something to suit everyone!
The 2014/15 IER Economic and Social Impact Report for the Western Australian racing industry, identified thoroughbred racing as the third highest attended sport in Western Australia behind AFL Football and motor racing.
Dating back to the 1700’s, horse racing has become an important part of the economic and social fabric across the world, with major events such as Royal Ascot, the Melbourne Cup and the Kentucky Derby – all attracting global attention each year!
Below is an overview of the most common types of careers available in thoroughbred racing.
Racing Industry Training
Phone: (08) 9445 5483
A trackrider helps exercise a racehorse by walking, trotting and galloping it under the instruction of the horse’s trainer in preparation for races. Trackriders are similar to jockeys, however do not ride in races and don’t have to be as light as a jockey. Many trackriders are employed by trainers, although many are freelance and ride for a number of different trainers each day and get paid per horse they ride.
There is a real need for Trackriders in Western Australia in both regional and metropolitan areas of the State, with many trainers seeking people with riding experience to ride trackwork. Experienced trackriders are able to travel throughout Australia and gain work wherever there is a race track.
There is a course available to assist with a career as a trackrider, but currently it is only available to Apprentice Jockeys.
Horse educators are experienced horsemen and horsewomen who are experts in training and educating young horses, to prepare them for racing. They have a good understanding of how horses learn and are very experienced riders. There is no qualification for this role, learning on the job, assisting an experienced horse educator is the ideal way to move into this role.
The Western Australian harness racing industry has a rich history and is the birthplace of the Inter Dominion, which is the pinnacle of the Australian harness racing calendar, often referred to as the ‘Melbourne Cup’ of harness.
Harness racing industry is unique in that many racing participants both drive and train racehorses.
All people working in a racing training stable in Western Australia must be registered or licensed with Racing and Wagering Western Australia.
Becoming a driver requires similar training to a trackrider and jockey, but doesn’t have the same weight constraints as seen in Thoroughbreds. Harness is also unique in that many drivers are also trainers.
The first step to becoming a driver is to commence working in a harness racing stables, where you are required to work for at least six months, as well as learn to be able to drive pacing horses in track work – this role is known as a Driving Stablehand.
It is then necessary to apply for a C Grade licence, which allows a driver to drive in official trials. Once you have gained enough experience and skills driving in trials, with the support of the RWWA Driving Coach, you will be assessed by a RWWA Steward in order to obtain a B Grade Licence. The B Grade Licence allows drivers to drive in country races.
Once you have a B Grade Licence you will then need to have at least 100 race drives in the country before you can apply for an A Grade Licence, which allows to drive at Gloucester Park on a Friday night. The RWWA stewards will then make a decision whether or not you have enough experience and ability to be upgraded to an A Grade Licence.
Similarly to jockeys, many drivers are self-employed, however most also train horses. Formal Training is available for driving.
Being a harness trainer is about knowing a horse’s abilities and strengths, its health and fitness, its character and special needs to train them to become elite equine athletes.
Becoming a harness trainer requires a lot of prior experience and knowledge gained from years of working with horses and in pacing training stables. The majority of harness trainers have their own stables and are self-employed with a minority being employed as a “private” trainer by people who own a large number of horses and have their own private facilities.
Harness trainers gain their experience working in stables under experienced trainers, often as stablehands, trackwork drivers or race drivers. Often they will be race drivers for a number of years prior to applying for a trainer’s license.
To become a trainer you need to have first been licensed as a stable hand or driver, and worked in the industry for at least six months to gain the appropriate knowledge to train a horse. Once you apply for a trainers licence you are required to complete a written test to show that you have the necessary knowledge of general horse care, training and gear, and the rules of racing. You will also be interviewed by a RWWA steward and will need to provide references from industry participants.
Once approved you would be licensed as a Trainer B, which allows you to train horses that you or a family member own, or partly own. After holding a Trainer B Licence you are able to apply to be upgraded to a Trainer A, which allows you to train horses that are not owned by yourself or family members.
Training is a highly competitive area of work and can be very rewarding. However, not everyone enjoys a high rate of success.
Horse educators are experienced horsemen and horsewomen who are experts in training and educating young horses, to prepare them for racing. They have a good understanding of how horses learn and are very experienced harness drivers. There is no qualification for this role, learning on the job, assisting an experienced horse educator is the ideal way to move into this role.
You may have a dog in your backyard that chases after the odd stick or tennis ball, but have you ever seen them hit speeds of 65 kilometres per hour?
That's the speed greyhounds clock up during their races and if you have ever contemplated a career in greyhound racing this will outline some of the possibilities.
Like all businesses, greyhound racing has a broad range of career opportunities, both part-time and full-time.
Most greyhound trainers commence their involvement as a hobby and develop their skills, with many of them making the transition from part-time to full-time once they are established with regular winners.
In order to become a trainer you must pass both a written exam as well as a practical test to show you have the knowledge and experience required to prepare greyhounds for racing. In addition to passing the written and practical tests you must have suitable kennelling facilities for your greyhounds, either at your home, property or at a rented facility.
A kennel hand is a person who attends and cares for greyhounds at a trainers kennels. A kennel hand may be responsible for caring for a number of greyhounds at any one time. Duties include grooming, feeding, cleaning and tidying kennels and yards, walking and exercising greyhounds and attending races.
At every greyhound race meeting, all of the greyhounds are checked by the race day vet and then taken to an air-conditioned kennel where they stay secure until it is time to get ready for their race.
Kennel staff facilitate this process by weighing greyhounds and recording their details, distributing stretch vests and kennel cards, assisting stewards and the vet where applicable and maintaining cleanliness in the kennel block.
There are approximately six kennel staff employed at each race meeting and all of them are employed on a casual or part-time basis.
No experience is required to become a part of the kennel staff.
Getting the greyhound used to chasing the mechanical lure usually starts around 14 months of age, and is referred to ‘breaking in’. Breakers are responsible for the breaking-in process, which can take anywhere between 2-6 weeks. Greyhounds also need to be taught how to enter and come out of the starting boxes.
The appropriate licence must be obtained through RWWA in order to become a breaker
After the running of each race, the greyhounds stop in an area called the catching pen. Once they reach the catching pen they are greeted by a catcher who puts a collar and lead on them and escorts them off the track into the kennels.
Many young people work as greyhound catchers and it’s a great way to learn about greyhound racing and to get to know trainers who may offer full or part time employment
You have to be an approved catcher in order to complete this task.
In greyhound racing there is a mechanical lure which travels ahead of the greyhounds on a rail until the greyhounds cross the finish line.
The person who drives the lure known as the ‘lure driver’ sits above the track and is instructed to keep the lure within clear sight of the leading greyhound.
This is a specialised role and requires a licence to operate.