All the horses had a routine canter up the main gallop this morning- as usual for a Monday morning. The lads were all in fine form, taking the mickey out of Janos after his weekend of excess. PJ was late in after playing Mummy to his gorgeous little girl "Amelia" whose mum Abby has the lurgy. Rowan is still injured but came in today to update us on his shoulder's progress, or lack of it as he is still in some pain. Beth is on holiday, Julie and Hayley are still off after their car crash but at least Julie has decided against a career as a speedway driver. George, who prefers not to ride out on Mondays in Spring because he has a lot to do in the garden stepped in to ride four lots, otherwise the riding out list would have comprised of nine lots instead of only eight. We are very lucky at Sun Hill because eight lots is in fact 'perfectly doable' given the set up of our facilities and the proximity of our gallops to the yard, although we generally have only six lots when all the staff are in work. However, we still managed to get finished with horses happily back in their boxes, enjoying a bowl of nuts by 12.45pm. The person most inconvenienced by 'a lot of lots' is me because its impossible to get much else done when the entire morning is spent watching so many lots, everything else gets left for later. But hey, what a life - watching racehorses, to hell with the paperwork!
The meeting with Kirsty from Richmond school careers office was very interesting and informative, the good news is there is alot we in racing can do to promote ourselves to school leavers, many of whom really are totally in the dark about the career prospects and opportunities horse racing has to offer. The list of jobs is endless, racing yards (along with Stud farms) are the very grass roots of racing and within our two areas alone there is an abundance of different jobs to be found. Studs offer many of their own off shoots which differ from the main, and specialized job of dealing with mares, foals and stallions while racing yards need horse people at all levels of experience to make the operation tick, from yard men and handy men who can muck out, drive tractors, roll gallops empty muck trailers, maintain machinery, horse walkers, and all manner of equipment, cut grass, garden, paint etc through to experienced work riders, good ground staff who are "proper" horsemen or women and can deal with horses in a variety of circumstances, breaking in, stalls work, schooling, racing preparation, travelling horses, sales work and sales preparation. Swimming horses, working with them on treadmills and other specialist equipment.
I haven't mentioned the other side of training yet either, which includes all the office administration, understanding BHA rules and regulations, how Weatherbys works with the endless amounts of form filling and registrations that happen day in, day out. Entries, declarations, jockeys plans and bookings, dealing with agents, arranging vet visits, making feed orders as well as lists for farriers, physio's, organising horse transport, health and safety, contracts, co-ordinating racing plans, foreign transport arrangements, book-keeping, vat, payroll, excellent organisational and people skills. Not to mention the ability to make a decent cup of coffee and bacon butties should owners fancy one!
Elsewhere within our industry there are other opportunities including...... jockeys, jockeys agents, valets, drivers, form men, bookies, professional gamblers, racecourse staff, catering, administration, groundsmen, soil specialists, Clerks of the courses, specialist vets and their assistants, racecourse and BHA doctors, betting shop staff, on course bookmakers and their teams. Farriers, equine dentists, physios, saddlers, tack shops, rug washing companies, feed, hay and bedding sales, jockey and equine nutritionists, raceday stall handlers, teachers and admin staff at the racing colleges, full time gallop men at racehorse centres and shared gallop facilities. Racing welfare staff, Injured jockeys fund staff, horse box manufacturers, retraining of racehorse yards (ROR), staff hostel managers, their cooks and cleaners, radio and TV presenters specialising in horse racing, racing journalists, pilots, private air charter firms, bloodstock agents, specialist insurance companies, pedigree analysts, equine artists. Working within the BHA and Weatherbys- themselves large employers. The list of opportunities is endless and I am sure I have left plenty out. These are all part and parcel of a "job with a difference", offering a very diverse career path indeed.
Horse racing is after all the second biggest spectator sport behind Football, but we are a much bigger employer than football is and when you read the non exhaustive list above, it's easy to see why.