Profile of a Strapper - Sarah Rütten

Sarah is Tony McEvoy’s travelling foreman, and is on the road with the horses whenever they go interstate. 

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get started in the racing industry?

I’ve always loved horses from a very young age and always had them growing up. It was a passion of mine to work in the industry and I started my first racing job when I was 15 part time as well as finishing school and it just went on from there. There is nothing else I could ever see myself doing now.

What do you love most about horses?

The thing I love most about them is that they have this way of connecting with you that not many other animals have. My horses I look after at work aren't just horses, they are way more special to me - almost like having children. Every morning I wake up excited to ride them to see them and when it comes to race day and they try so hard for you - that’s the most rewarding thing of all. Day in and day out we look after these horses, when they win and run well it makes you so proud to be a part of it.

What does a typical day look like for you? What are some of your responsibilities?

I’m Tony McEvoy’s travelling foreman which means when the horses go interstate I go with them. It’s my responsibility to make sure every thing Tony asks gets done and these horses are 100% ready for the races that we aim them for. I ride trackwork, strap the horses and also go to the races and saddle when it’s required . It’s honestly a dream job. When I’m back in Melbourne I still do most of the same things.

How did you come to work for Tony McEvoy, how long have you worked there?

I’ve always had a high regard for Tony McEvoy because in the early days I worked a few yearling preparations and he was always one of the most friendly and pleasant trainers we would parade for. He took time out to talk to everyone.

I was looking for a change from my previous stable three years ago and McEvoy Mitchell Racing were at that time looking for track riders, it’s the best career decision I’ve ever made and also the most rewarding. I feel I’m very lucky to work for not only a great trainer but also a lovely human being.

How special is it to work with a horse like Sunlight?

I probably don’t have enough time to explain this because it’s so close to my heart I could talk about her for hours! She’s incredible and I pinch myself everyday I’m the person that’s lucky enough to ride her and look after her. It’s been a dream come true for me.

What’s she like to look after?

Mostly she’s very easy, she’s a pleasure to take anywhere - an old hand at travelling these days. She definitely does have a fair bit of attitude when it comes to being around her in her box and the stable. She’s not afraid to lay her ears back at other horses or make sure they don’t get too close. She’s definitely sassy but also an absolute queen!

It was great to see your reaction after she won the Coolmore (Stakes), can you tell us how much the win meant to you?

She's been a part of my life for a long time now and travelling with horses you get an even closer bond as they rely on you more because you're the only person responsible for them everyday.

The journey before winning the Coolmore had already been incredible... to win a race like the Coolmore is beyond my wildest dreams. She’s an absolute superstar and I could not be any prouder, she’s so tough and tries her heart out every single time she goes on the race track.

It was very emotional and everyone that knows me will know how much this means to me and how nervous I do get. It’s also having such happiness for Tony and the owners because they are all great people and no one was more deserving. Words can not describe how much this meant to me!

Do you find there is more pressure leading up to bigger races?

I get nervous at any race when one of my horses is in, because when you have passion for something you love and you work hard to see them succeed then naturally it’s going to make you nervous. But of course when these bigger races come around the pressure is definitely heightened, especially when I travel as it’s all on me to make sure everything is 100% for race day and the horses are presented the best they can be.

What is the most challenging part of your position?

The most challenging is probably having a holiday! I don’t like taking too much time off because I don’t like missing my horses race. But other than that it’s just making sure when I do travel that the horses are fit and well and that Tony is happy with them. Tony is great to work for because as long as you do your best and know how he likes things done, he’s rarely unhappy with the job you do.

What is your favourite part of being a strapper?

Representing the stable and being proud to lead your horses around the mounting yard. Seeing them win is just the icing on the cake.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a strapper?

It’s one of the most rewarding jobs. If you have love and passion for horses and dedication, it can truly take you anywhere!