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Racehorse Trainer

Racehorse trainers prepare thoroughbred horses for racing. They have responsibility for their overall training, fitness, care and welfare. As part of this they have to establish the early training of each horse, preparing them for specific races. They have to build up each horse's stamina, fitness and technique, and devise individual training and feeding programmes.

A racehorse trainer has to run the training operation as a business including preparing business plans, managing staff and finances, dealing with clients, owners and suppliers and managing the facilities.

A daily routine usually involves:

  • setting and overseeing the care, feeding and horse health policies for the organisation
  • managing staff, including hiring staff and adhering to employment legislation
  • planning and implementing a training and fitness programme for each horse
  • overseeing each horse's fitness work on the gallops and schooling through starting stalls or over hurdles and fences
  • assessing horses' ability for potential races
  • planning race entries, pre-and post procedures and selecting and appointing suitable jockeys to runners
  • completing racing documentation including passports, licences, stable passes, entries and declarations
  • accompanying horses to races
  • liaising with owners and connections.

Trainers normally oversee the marketing strategy for their business, liaising closely with existing racehorse owners and attracting new clients. They will often play an active role in selecting new bloodstock, advising owners and investors.

Racehorse training involves early starts, long hours and weekend work. Trainers work outdoors in all weather conditions and travel to race meetings throughout the country.

The majority of racehorse trainers are self employed therefore their annual income will vary significantly depending on how many horses they train and the amount of races that are won.

The skills needed to operate successfully as a racehorse trainer include:

  • excellent horse management skills
  • a natural flair and a thorough knowledge of training racehorses
  • excellent interpersonal, leadership and communication skills
  • a sound knowledge of business and financial management
  • an understanding of employment legislation
  • a full understanding of the British Horseracing Authority's orders, instructions and rules of racing.

There are around 600 licensed racehorse trainers operating throughout Great Britain. Most yards are relatively modest in size, although larger trainers can be responsible for as many as 200 horses. Trainers usually specialise in either Flat or National Hunt racing. Many stables are located in rural areas, such as Newmarket (Suffolk), Lambourn (Berkshire) and North Yorkshire.

The first step for most racehorse trainers is to train as a racing groom and gain experience in assisting with training horses. Sometimes they will also have a successful career as a jockey. Several years' experience of working in the industry is required, preferably as an assistant trainer. Applicants may prepare by attending a foundation course, which leads to an Apprenticeship. See the Racing Groom/Jockey (Apprentice/Conditional) profile.

Before the British Horseracing Authority issues a licence to train, potential trainers must attend three one-week training modules held at the British Racing School or Northern Racing College. Entrants must have the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 3 in Racehorse Care and Management (or approved equivalent) to start this training course.

Module 1 relates to the practical skills required to train and manage a yard of racehorses. Module 2 focuses on business skills and Module 3 on staff management.

An application for a trainer's licence must be supported by:

  • references
  • a business plan
  • leases or agreements covering the use of a yard and facilities
  • a successful inspection report from the British Horseracing Authority
  • a financial reference to confirm substantial working capital or overdraft facilities

Progress involves establishing a strong reputation among racehorse owners and gaining new clients. There may be opportunities to work abroad. Many assistant trainers build up their experience by working in different countries.

Further information

British Horseracing Authority, 75 High Holborn, London WC1V 6LS. 020 7152 0000. Websites: www.britishhorseracing.com and www.careersinracing.com

British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust, Suite 16, Unit 8, Kings Court, Willie Snaith Road, Newmarket CB8 7SG. 01638 560743. Website: www.bhest.co.uk

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry CV8 2LG. 024 7669 6996. Websites: www.lantra.co.uk and www.afuturein.com

National Trainers Federation (NTF), 9 High Street, Lambourn, Hungerford, Berkshire RG17 8XN. 01488 71719. Website: www.racehorsetrainers.org

 Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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