The thoroughbred industry offers a huge range of roles and career paths - but we'll be the first to admit the terminology can be a bit confusing. That's why we created the Thoroughbred Careers A-Z to help make sense of it all.
A horse trainer’s right-hand man, the assistant trainer ensures everything runs smoothly from managing the staff to saddling horses at the races. Assistant trainers also help plan horses’ training schedules, communicate with owners, run satellite operations outside the main stable and keep everyone on task. Many assistant trainers go on to become trainers.
How to get there: while there are no formal qualifications required to become an assistant horse trainer, a Certificate IV Trainer (from the RGR08 National Training Package) or equivalent, is required to become a fully licensed trainer.
Auctioneers are those who sell horses at public auction through a sale ring. In addition to pointing out desirable traits about the horse in the ring, they are also responsible for calling out the price throughout the bidding process and bringing the conclusion of each lot’s time in the ring with the bang of the gavel when there are no more bids. Australia has two sales companies: Inglis (main base in Sydney) and Magic Millions (main base on the Gold Coast).
How to get there: In order to take this career path, you should approach your local auctioneer house, whether it is horses, cattle or sheep, auctioneering experience can take you a long way.
The crew behind the barriers are there to make sure everyone stays safe as the horses enter the barriers before the race. Barrier attendants lead the horses into the stall and will team up to load reluctant horses. The starter releases the horses from the barrier and ensures all horses have a fair start and races are run on time.
How to get there: Barrier attendants may also work as stablehands and move into this field when their horse handling skills become more advanced. This is a job that only involves work on race and trial days so other work will often be required.
If you’re interested in trading Thoroughbreds, this position is for you. A bloodstock agent can buy foals, yearlings, racehorses, mares and stallions. They buy and sell privately and publicly through a sales company. Bloodstock agents look at a variety of factors from pedigree to physical appearance before purchasing a horse, usually on a client’s behalf. Some bloodstock agents also take a management role, helping clients find the right stallion for their mare, craft stud deals, or decide when to sell horses.
How to get there: There is no specific required degree or training to become a bloodstock agent, but knowledge of equine science is beneficial, as are general business skills.
Bookmakers set odds on races and allow bettors to bet on the outcomes of the race. In Australia, there are on-course bookmakers based at the racetrack and corporate bookmakers that operate predominantly online.
How to get there: An aptitude for numbers is essential to become a bookmaker. Working for a corporate bookmaker or as a junior under an established on-course bookmaker will provide you with the relevant knowledge and experience for this role.
Much like human chiropractors, equine chiropractors make sure any musculoskeletal problems in the horse are addressed. Many racing stables employ chiropractors for regular maintenance of racehorses in addition to treating injuries or rehabilitating from old injuries. Chiropractors work on racehorses, breeding stock at farms and young horses going to sales.
How to get there: As an Equine Chiropractor you will first need to become either a licensed chiropractor or a licensed veterinarian skilled in the Equine Chiropractic area. Pay rates can start low for juniors, but will increase with experience.
The Clerk of Scales ensures all horses have carried their assigned weight by weighing the jockeys before and after their races. They are also responsible for making sure that jockeys are wearing the right silks and horses are wearing the right equipment before heading to the track for their race.
How to get there: A career in this field may require travel around a range of local tracks in the area. A thorough understanding of general racing processes and safety around horses is also required.
Often wearing a red coat and riding a grey horse, the Clerk of the Course ensures nervous racehorses are calm going to the starting gate and helps a jockey if there is an issue between the parade ring and starting gates. The clerk of the course is there to keep everyone on the course safe on race day.
Their traditional dress and use of grey horses harks back to hunting days of centuries gone by in England. 1992 Melbourne Cup hero Subzero acted as a Clerk of the Course’s horse for many years after he retired from competition.
How to get there: A part time role on racedays, this position requires exceptional horsemanship and riding skills
Equine dentists playing a vital role in equine health by making sure a horse’s mouth is healthy and free from pain. It is recommended that, like humans, horses have yearly dental care to protect from issues. Equine dentists are important members of the team that make sure racehorses and breeding stock are fit and well.
How to get there: The Certificate IV in Equine Dentistry will accredit you as a Certified Equine Dental Service Provider.
Often assisting veterinarians, equine nurses have a broad role which ranges from surgery assistance to helping with routine x-rays and maintaining equipment. Equine nurses can be found working with horses in racing stables, on farms, and in clinics.
How to get there: There are many educational paths you can take. You can complete a certificate Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing through TAFE and an Equine Science degree at university. Graduate salaries are low but increase with experience.
The cliché “no hoof, no horse” highlights the important role of a farrier. These talented horsemen take care of the hoof, everything from hoof trimming for optimum performance to replacing shoes that come off as horses head to the barriers and working with farm managers to correct foal conformation. Farriers are trained to have a deep understanding of the hoof and how to fix hoof-related issues.
How to get there: Australia has a wide range of courses and locations to study such as ABC Hoof Care, University of Queensland, Western Sydney Institute, Hunter TAFE, Polytechnic West, NMIT, TAFE SA and the Sunshine Coast Farrier/ Blacksmith Academy.
Much like the name implies, a form analyst identifies the race form a horse is in and predicts how races may be run by looking at running styles of the entries and conditions of the tracks. In addition to race day analysis, form analysts work with bloodstock agents and investors to identify elite stallion and broodmare prospects.
How to get there: A deep appreciation and understanding of horse racing is required. Watch plenty of races and assess the race breakdown to hone your eye.
The person who rides horses in races, the role of a jockey is more in-depth than just riding in the afternoon. Jockeys make connections with owners and trainers and will often ride trackwork and trials to prepare for riding specific horses. A jockey is typically a small person, with a natural weight under 58kg, with some required to ride as low as 52kg on certain occasions.
How to get there: You will require a Jockey and Rider licence from your state racing authority. There are three variations available - Jockey: ride horses in races; Apprentice jockey: learn to become a jockey with a licensed trainer; Approved rider: ride horses in races at a registered picnic meeting (amateur races)
Jockey managers, also called agents, are the go-between between trainers or owners and jockeys to make sure they get the best rides possible and maintain good relations with those in the industry. In addition to booking jockey rides, managers also identify up-and-coming horses that could be potential stars for their clients, arrange travel plans, and where to prioritise riding engagements. Jockey managers can also play the part of media contact, organising interviews and sponsor appearances for their jockeys.
How to get there: While there is no minimum educational requirement for becoming a jockey agent, most agents have gained significant experience in the horse racing industry, have excellent contacts with trainers and have a good understanding of race form.
Journalists can cover a broad range of topics from race results to bloodstock news. Many journalists cross over between multiple topics and balance investigative journalism with race and sale recaps. In addition to writing stories, journalists can also take up roles on television and radio.
How to get there: The typical path to becoming a journalist involves completing a degree in journalism followed by a one-year graduate cadetship. There are many Australian Universities offering Journalism and Communication courses.
Marketing roles in the industry can vary from farm-based marketing of stallions to racecourse-based marketing of racing carnivals. Tasks include advertisements creation, organising open days and other events, and overseeing social media accounts. In addition to working on a farm or racecourse, you can also work in an agency that has multiple accounts with a variety of racing clients.
How to get there: No formal education is required, but a good marketer will have a flair for creativity, a good design eye and a thorough understanding of the industry. Many universities offer excellent marketing degrees.
Equine photographers can be found at racetracks taking photos of race day events or on-farm photographing foals for stallion ads. While some farms have photographers on staff, most farms hire specialist stallion photographers for marketing purposes. At the track, many photographers work for media outlets and you can see their work in industry or mainstream publications, in addition to advertising.
How to get there: Studying photography will arm you with the right skills to target your chosen field. There are many career opportunities available such as media, sport, wildlife, portrait and and travel. There are a great selection of photography courses throughout Australia.
Physiotherapists play a vital role in keeping horses feeling fit and well. Physiotherapists can help treat musculoskeletal problems such as back pain by manually manipulating joints or using ultrasound and shockwave therapies. They can help with ongoing horse soundness or address issues that pop up with racehorses.
How to get there: In order to become an Animal Physiotherapist, an undergraduate Physiotherapy degree is required. After a few years of clinical experience with horses, you can move on to a Masters degree in Animal Studies (Physiotherapy).
A pre-trainer plays an important part in a racehorse’s career both at the beginning and throughout his career. Pre-trainers teach horses their early lessons when they are broken-in to saddle, in addition to getting returning racehorses fit before they head back to their trainer.
How to get there: pre-trainers typically have excellent horsemanship skills and considerable experience working for trainers and in stables before setting up their own establishment. Experience with young horses is essential.
The job of a race caller is to accurately describe the running of races so the audience knows what is going on and where horses are located throughout the running of the race. They also spend the day announcing results and other on-course or on-air news between races.
How to get there: Practice makes perfect! This is a job that requires a lot of practice, good memory and the ability to recall names quickly. It is recommended that budding commentators study and learn from a mentor working in the industry.
Racecourse managers make sure the racetrack is perfect for race day. A racecourse manager maintains the track so it is a suitable racing surface on race day or for morning training. Racecourses also have a promotional and operations team to help facilitate marketing and event management.
How to get there: A career as a racecourse manager combines a mix of technical and management skills ranging from a knowledge of machinery, experience in staff supervision and OHS qualifications. There are numerous Turf Management courses available around Australia
Stewards have a variety of tasks during a raceday, most importantly ensuring racing rules are followed. Stewards judge if races are run cleanly and determine if any punishments or disqualifications are needed. If so, stewards are responsible for handing them out.
How to get there: To become a Raceday Judge/Steward you can start with a course at Australian Equine Academy & TAFE. The state principal racing authorities also have cadet programs available.
Each state in Australia has a principal racing authority task with overseeing racing in that region. There are a range of business roles within each organisation with departments responsible for horse registration, finance, licensing, regulation, media and marketing. Racing Australia is the peak national administration body for Thoroughbred racing in Australia.
How to get there: To be involved in the industry you will need to complete a Racing Services (Racing Administration) - Certificate Course.
Working for trainers, racing managers are those in charge of ensuring horses are entered in the correct races. After talking with trainers and coming up with a plan for each horse during their campaign, racing managers look at upcoming races and officially enter the horses. They also declare the equipment a horse will be wearing in the race and work closely with jockey agents to ensure their horses have the best jockey booked for the ride. Often, racing managers will be tasked at looking after clients.
How to get there: A strong working knowledge of the thoroughbred racing industry is essential with excellent organisational and communication skills. A business degree would be useful, but industry experience is the best starting point.
Racing programmers are responsible for developing the racing calendar for the state racing authority. Their goal is to ensure the race calendar will provide races best suited for the horses in the population. When a race meeting is delayed or cancelled, the race programmer will need to adapt the schedule accordingly.
How to get there: Previous experience with rostering and scheduling systems is critical. Race programmers will require an excellent knowledge of the local industry and the mix of thoroughbred abilities and aptitudes racing in that area.
This sales role is responsible for selling stallion nominations to breeders who wish to get their mare in foal. Typically based at the farm where the stallion stands, the nominations person is tasked with attracting the best quality mares to each stallion by cultivating relationships with clients. This role also includes researching pedigrees, helping with marketing campaigns for stallions, and hosting stallion parades and showings to clients. Many bloodstock agents begin their careers in a stallion nominations role, learning the craft of commercial pedigree, physique and performance analysis from a bloodstock trading perspective.
How to get there: A thorough working knowledge of the commercial bloodstock industry, pedigrees and physical horse assessment is valuable for a stallion nominations role. Experience in sales and business is also valuable. Progression to this role often comes after years as a stud groom.
A racehorse’s constant companion, the strapper makes sure a racehorse has everything it needs to perform at its best. From feeding the horse, to mucking out the horse stall, to grooming and presenting the horse on race day, the strapper spends hours with the horse every day and often is the first to notice if something is amiss. There are often great opportunities to travel in this role.
How to get there: This role is the first step for any aspiring young racing participant aiming for any senior role in the racing industry, such as being a trainer or racing manager. Contact your local racetrack to find out if a trainer is looking for staff, or check out the job listings on this site.
This role encompasses a variety of positions from handling stallions to foaling-down broodmares or preparing yearlings. A few tasks involved on a near daily basis are mucking out stalls, bringing horses in, educating foals and weanlings, and feeding horses. The two major annual focuses for a stud groom is during the breeding season (August to Dec) when mares are foaling and bred to stallions, and sales season (Jan to May) where yearlings and broodmares are prepared for sale at public auction.
How to get there: This is the first step for any aspiring breeding industry participant. Contact your local stud farm for job opportunities or check out the job listings on this site. Grooms often are able to move up into management positions as they become more experienced. Other options for change are careers as stable managers, trainers, breeders and veterinary assistants.
Typically the most senior hands-on role on a horse farm, the stud manager co-ordinates all duties from staff management to horse breeding activities. In addition to day-to-day tasks such as horse management, overseeing staff and client liasion, stud managers are also responsible for pasture management, the organisation of paperwork and budget co-ordination.
How to get there: After many years experience working with mares, foals, yearlings and perhaps even stallions, the top job is to become a stud manager. The Irish National Stud course is internationally regarded as one of the top courses for aspiring young stud managers,
A varied role depending on the farm’s size, a stud secretary takes care of administrative tasks. This can vary from booking mares into stallions to invoicing and other duties required for the smooth running of the farm. Stud secretaries can also communicate with clients about breeding dates, veterinary procedures, foalings and stallion bookings. In addition, they prepare the correct paperwork for foal registration, breeding records and insurance.
How to get there: Experience outside on a stud is essential as it provides good knowledge of what is involved in running a stud farm. Good organisational skills are required.
Syndicators purchase horses, typically at public auction, then put together groups of owners to race it together. A syndicator’s tasks include selecting a horse, finding interested potential owners, completing all paperwork (including legal requirements for ASIC), and communicating with the trainer to give owners updates on the horse. Syndication companies typically have junior co-ordinator roles, responsible for client liaison, marketing and administration tasks.
How to get there: Syndicators will either need to have good knowledge of horse selection, or work closely with a bloodstock agent. Experience in the industry and an enjoyment of communication is essential.
The on-track or in-studio expert you see when watching racing coverage. Presenters bring all information to viewers including live interviews with connections after a race to features about horses and the human connections that may be of interest to viewers. While their on-air work may just take up a small time slot each day, hours of preparation time is required for researching relevant story lines and staying up-to-date on news events.
How to get there: A talent for public communication and excellent working knowledge of the thoroughbred industry is essential to becoming a presenter. NIDA and AFTRS are great places for top courses on presenting.
Track riders have a crucial role in preparing horses for raceday. In addition to getting the horse into shape by riding according to a trainer’s directions each morning, track riders also report on how the horse is feeling and moving, giving trainers a holistic view on how the horse is developing toward raceday targets.
How to get there: Track riders are required to be licensed by the state racing authority. A strong horse riding ability is encouraged before attempting to ride a thoroughbred. There are courses at The Australian Racing & Equine Academy/TAFE.
The trainer is the primary carer for each racehorse in training. This person (alone or in a partnership) is responsible for training horses in preparation for raceday. In addition to being responsible the horse’s health and wellbeing, trainers keep owners updated on horse progress, perform media tasks and create individual training plans to make sure each horse maximises its earning potential.
How to get there: Becoming a trainer typically comes after years of experience working for a horse trainer as a strapper, trackwork rider, jockey, racing manager or assistant trainer. To become licensed, you will need to complete a Certificate IV in Racing.
An equine veterinarian is essentially a horse doctor, working closely with the horse staff to identify and treat issues. In the racing stable horses are generally checked over by a veterinarian pre- and post-race, and after each gallop to check for any potential ailments. On a stud farm, veterinarians work closely with farm staff to foal mares, then scan and pregnancy test mares going back in-foal. They also ensure all farm stock are healthy and free from injury.
How to get there: A university degree is required to become a licensed veterinarian. Often these studies are carried out as a post-graduate, although it is possible to become a vet through an under-graduate degree. There are numerous universities in Australia that offer degrees in Veterinary Science.