Careers in Racing

Careers in Racing

Here’s a list of many of the career opportunities in the horseracing industry in the UK.  Click on the title to be taken to a description of each role or scroll down to learn about the breadth of careers associated with horseracing in the UK.

Training Racehorses At the Racecourse On Racedays Veterinary Services Breeding and Selling
Assistant Trainer Operations Manager Clerk of the Course Equine Veterinary Nurses Stud Manager
Racing Secretary Assistant Operations Manager Starter  Stallion Handler
Travelling Head Lad/Lass Catering and Hospitality Clerk of the Scales  Stud Hand
Professional Jockey Finance Officer Judge  Preparing for Sale
Amateur Jockey Health & safety officer Stipendiary Stewards  Bloodstock Agents
Ground Staff Veterinary Officers and Technicians Stud Secretary
Stall Handlers

Careers associated with Training Racehorses

Have a look at what trainer, Oliver Greenall has to say about his job.

The Assistant Trainer is the trainer’s right hand man and represents the trainer on the racecourse. Duties include; staff management, planning the horse’s training schedules, health and safety and ensuring the horse’s welfare. The assistant trainer needs knowledge of handicapping, the Rules of Racing, the BHA’s Licensing/Security functions and how Weatherbys operates.
Racing Secretary

The Racing Secretary has a role will vary depending on the trainer and involves far more than a standard secretarial position. The racing secretary is responsible for race entries and declarations, liaising with owners, BHA and Weatherbys, booking lockets, organising transport, dealing with staff issues, placing orders, taking deliveries and maintaining the smooth running of the office. Some also do the bookkeeping and payroll. The skills required are; excellent organisation and communication skills, reliable and able to cope under pressure.

Racing is one of the few equestrian disciplines where stable staff have a regulated pay structure and clear career path. Salary rates are agreed by the National Association of Stable Staff and the National Trainers Federation (NTF). The salary is scaled so the more qualified you become and more experience you get, the better you are paid. Staff may get accommodation on, or near, the yard and will get a share of the pooled prize money.

Travelling Head Lad/Lass is responsible for taking horses to race meetings all over the country and, sometimes abroad. Duties include; supervising the regular lad who is travelling with the horse/s, overall responsibility for the welfare of the horses ensuring that they are in peak condition when they arrive at the racecourse, responsibility for the passports and colours. A travelling head lad needs to be hardworking, reliable and organised. They may need to be able to drive the horsebox and if so will need to have a Certificate in Equine Transport.

To be a Professional Jockey, first you need to be employed full time by a Trainer All trainee jockeys, both Apprentice (flat) and Conditional (jump) must first complete a Licence Course, followed by a Continuation Course and finally, having achieved 20 or more winner, the Advanced Course. Becoming a professional Jockey is as difficult as it would be to become any professional sportsperson. Not only do you have to have talent on a racehorse, you need an immensely dedicated work ethic. You will work long hours for little reward when you are starting out. There is also a lot of competition to succeed, there are currently over 850 licenced jockeys.

An Amateur Jockey rides under the Rules of Racing in Amateur races, the jockey needs an Amateur Riders Permit and to have attended an Amateur Riders Seminar and an Assessment Day, held at one of the racing schools.

Careers associated with Racecourses

We interviewed Lucinda Dutton, Sponsorship Executive at Bangor and Chester racecourses.

The 59 racecourses in the UK host many events other than racing and therefore provide many customer service job opportunities, including the following.

Operations Manager responsible for the promotion, organisation and delivery of all race day and non-racing events that take place at the racecourse.

Assistant Operations Manager responsible assisting with the delivery of all events, including race-days and non-racing events. Managing partners, contractors and the delivery of services.
Sales Coordinator who would be responsible for the administration of all client events, managing bookings, preparing invoices etc. This type of role would require excellent communication and customer service skills.

There are numerous opportunities in Catering and Hospitality. Race days and many non-race days involve corporate hospitality and catering and most larger racecourses will employ a team of full time catering staff including roles such as Sous Chef, Chef de partie as well as part time or temporary roles during busy periods. Some race courses also have on site hotels and restaurants, all requiring staff.

The Finance Officer is in charge of the finances, accounting and investment activities of the racecourse. Duties would include; the administration of the financial system, employee pay records and benefits, monitoring all expenses and budgets to comply with the racecourse’s policies.

Health & Safety Officer. Responsibility for health and safety is split between the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the local District Council. District Councils enforce health and safety at racecourses within their district. It is the role of the Health & safety officer to ensure that the racecourse complies with all the relevant regulations.

Ground Staff: The head groundsman supervises staff carrying out the maintenance and preparation of the racing surface (grass or all-weather), fences, stands and other racecourse areas, such as; car parks, horsebox park, saddling boxes, pre-parade ring, parade ring. The headgroundsman may also be responsible for maintaining course machinery in safe working order.

Careers linked to Racedays

Clerk of the Course is responsible for all matters relating to turf management and raceday preparation. Along with the racecourse manager may also deal with race planning an aim to achieve an optimum fixture list. Duties include; deciding whether the course is fit to race, declaring the official going on the day of racing, monitoring the going in the run up to the race, and covering or watering the track as necessary to maintain a particular going and on National Hunt courses, preparing and managing fences.

The Starter assumes control of the runners and riders as soon as the field arrives down at the Start, overseeing any problems such as tack adjustments or withdrawals, before getting the race underway.

The Clerk of the Scales weighs Jockeys out prior to every race and checks that the correct weight, colours and number are being carried, as well as whether or not blinkers/visor have been declared, and then weighs the jockeys back in after each race.

The Judge calls the result of the race, using the photo-finish facility as necessary. The Judge also announces the winning margins and the Official Time of the winning horse.

Stipendiary Stewards view horses in the parade ring and review the race with the Stewards of the meeting to see if any breaches of the Rules took place. They hold Stewards Enquiries if necessary. The Stewards also nominate which horse(s) should be dope tested.

Veterinary Officers and Technicians carry out identity checks on horses in the Racecourse Stables, view horses in the parade ring and coordinate the dope testing of nominated horses.

Stalls handlers: Starting stalls are used for all races on the Flat except in adverse circumstances such as high winds or very heavy going when their use would be impractical or unsafe. At each meeting the stalls are supported by a team of professional horse handlers whose function is to load the horses as rapidly, efficiently and safely as possible, taking into account the different needs of different horses: some need to go in late as they will fret if in the stalls, others require particularly sensitive handling.

Careers associated with Veterinary services

Matthew O’Donnell told us what it is like to work as a veterinary surgeon.

Equine Veterinary Nurses deal with all aspects of horse care under the supervision of the veterinary surgeon. Duties include; mucking out and disinfecting stables, sterilising surgical instruments, feeding, leading out in hand. More specialist tasks are; giving injections, dressing wounds, bandaging and assisting in surgery. The minimum age to start training at an approved equine training practice is 17 years old.  To be considered for training, candidates need 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above and subjects must include English, Maths and 1 Science (Biology, Physics, Chemistry). A background of working with horses is recommended.

Careers linked to breeding and selling racehorses

Amongst other things, Will Kinsey breeds and sells racehorses.

The role of the Stud Manager will vary depending on the size of the stud but is normally ultimate responsibility for the horses and the promotion and marketing of the stud. Duties include; liaising with owners, selecting and purchasing stallions and other bloodstock, recruiting and managing stud staff. A stud manager will not only require practical experience but also communication and organisational skills.

The Stallion Handler looks after the stallions on a stud. During the breeding season this can mean working 7 days a week.

The Stud Groom is second in charge to the Stud Manager and will have extra responsibilities to a Stud Hand. Duties include welfare of the horses, feeding, exercising, liaising with the vet and farrier, teasing and covering, attending to mares and foals during and after foaling, maintaining stud records and supervising staff.

The Stud hand is often the starting point in stud work. Stud hands are responsible for the day to day care of mares, foals, teasers and young stock, from feeding, grooming and mucking out to assisting with veterinary procedures, teasing, covering and foaling

Preparing for Sale. Some yards specialise in preparing thoroughbreds for sale, these can be foals, yearlings, youngsters or mares. The duties will include all normal horse husbandry routines as well as daily exercise and sales practice.

Bloodstock Agents give advice on the purchase and management of racing and breeding stock. Duties include; the purchase and sale of thoroughbreds of all ages, representing clients at all major bloodstock sales, providing valuations for prospective purchasers,, arranging export, transportation and insurance, advising on stallion selection for broodmares and the purchase of breeding rights

The Stud Secretary communicates with owners, maintains stud records and documents. The stud secretary needs to be a good communicator, have administrative, and computer skills. There is a specific course at the National Stud to help those with conventional qualifications to gain an insight into the industry.