‘I love the thrill’: meet the former professional rodeo rider hoping to go point-to-pointing

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  • Canadian-born Brady Betlamini is a stable lad based with National Hunt trainer Emma Lavelle in Wiltshire. However, his route into the sport was somewhat unorthodox, having switched saddles from professional rodeo rider to work rider.

    The 23-year-old comes from a farming background and grew up in Alberta, Canada, riding Western and taking part in rodeo competitions.

    “Where I come from, it is very secluded ‘bush’ country — we live an hour and a half from the nearest major city,” says Brady. “I grew up with cattle and horses. My father was a professional rodeo rider, so there was a strong cowboy community on our ranch.

    “I started rodeo aged 15. There are different events within the sport including bucking bulls, timed events and steer wrestling, which is what I used to do (pictured top). I started to take it seriously during high school and joined the professional ranks, which meant I travelled to places such as North America and Australia.”

    Brady riding Viva Vittoria

    Brady was first introduced to horseracing while doing rodeo in Australia. However, while training in Australia he badly injured himself and it made him reconsider his career choice.

    On returning home, he enrolled at a racing school in Canada before applying — and gaining — a scholarship, which took him further afield to Ireland. It was a four-week programme at Racing Academy and Centre of Excellence (RACE), and while at RACE, Brady gained valuable experience with Irish trainer John Oxx.

    “At that time, I didn’t even know jump racing was a thing, then I saw some horses being schooled over fences and thought ‘that’s a weird way to train a Flat horse!’

    “While at RACE they let me school, which was my first time jumping a horse, and I loved the buzz from it straight away,” adds Brady. “After my time at RACE, I flew back home and applied for a visa for the UK. I was then put in contact with Emma Lavelle, and she agreed to take me on.”

    Brady riding out at Emma Lavelle’s yard

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    Brady joined Emma and her team in January, and is in charge of six horses. He names Viva Vittoria as his yard favourite and the first time he visited a British racecourse was to lead up the mare at Market Rasen, where she duly won.

    “I just love the thrill of jump racing; the horses are so tough and hearty,” he says. “It is also such a versatile sport — there are so many different methods of training a horse.

    “My favourite mornings are Thursdays because it is schooling morning at Emma’s,” explains Brady, who has ambitions to go point-to-pointing and has applied for his jockey license.

    “Riding racehorses is so different to the Western riding I grew up with, but it didn’t take me long to adapt. Everyone at Emma’s has been so helpful and my riding has already improved.

    “My family and friends back home have been so supportive, they wanted me to spread my wings and explore,” he says. “Where I’m from, not many people leave — just making the journey to the city is a big thing! But everyone is loving what I’m doing.”

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