Becoming a racehorse trainer

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  • Find a yard, get some horses and make them win. At least, that’s the theory.

    “First of all you have to find a place to train from, to rent or buy,” says up-and-coming racehorse trainer Harry Dunlop. “Then you have to see how affordable it would be, and create a business plan.

    “While this is going on, or beforehand, you must do three courses at the British Racing School (BRS). Module one is racehorse management, which includes health and safety and things like gallops. Module two is business skills and compiling business plans, which is incredibly important.

    “Unless you are very rich, you are going to need a loan, and you need to make a rational plan of how life is going to be for the next three years. Some people don’t realise how much capital you’ve got to put down, and the lecturers on the course don’t frighten you, but they do make it realistic. I think some people do a double take — is it really the right road?

    “And module three is staff management — how to employ them, national insurance, payslips, registering staff, incentives to keep them and so on.

    “You also need to do your NVQ Level Three, which is looking after horses — Pony Club stuff.

    “Then you have your interview at the Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA). You need to submit an application for a licence to train with your business plan, letters from people you have worked for, character references, letters from two potential owners who are definitely going to send you horses, and you have to have proof that eight to 10 horses are definitely coming to your yard, along with a copy of your lease.

    “You have got to have worked for a licensed trainer for two or three years. Then inspectors from the HRA come and visit you, to screen you and make sure you are capable of starting training. The process is very good at highlighting all aspects of what you are taking on.

    “That official first day as a trainer, seeing those horses’ heads over the door and knowing that you are responsible for them, is very exciting and fairly nerve-racking. But we’ve got great staff and an excellent headman in Phil Wright.”

    This information formed part of a larger feature on Harry Dunlop in Horse & Hound. Read the feature in full in the current issue (23 November, ’06) on sale now.

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