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Racing options for gap year students

Expert advice on gap year options for non-equine degree students interested in racing

The gap year, once a glamorous option for the more adventurous school leaver, is now virtually obligatory before or after university. For many, it is a time to officially ponder the meaning of life, go travelling or put some career ideas to the test.

There is now an array of horse-friendly gap year options that could simply help you brush up your equine skills or even send you on your way to a glittering career in the equine industry.

As one observer comments: “If used cannily, the gap year can also be fruitful for students who have signed themselves up for more conventional academic courses but can’t leave the idea of working with horses behind.”

British Horseracing Training Board

High-flyers who want to experience life in the racing world after university can join an elite band of post-graduate students on the British Horseracing Training Board’s (BHB) annual taster.

There are just 17 places available on the BHB’s graduate development programme and many applicants learn of this unique opportunity through word of mouth.

The course begins in July with an intensive two-week immersion at the British Racing School in Newmarket, followed by a two-month placement in the industry, possibly with a racecourse or with the bodies running the sport – the Jockey Club, Racecourse Association or the British Horseracing Board.

Administrator Gill Lovell says: “We have a retention rate of about 40% of graduates staying on in the industry, and some have gone on to take up senior positions within racing.

“We are looking for high academic qualifications and a very strong interest in racing, but we don’t mind at all what subjects the students have studied.”

The course, which includes accommodation at the British Racing School, is free of charge. Students are paid separately by the organisation they are placed with and the grant often includes accommodation, subsistence and a small salary.

  • Contact (tel: 01638 560743).

    British Racing School

    The British Racing School (BRS) at Newmarket has extended its programme to include short taster courses ideal for anyone considering life within the racing industry.

    Largely for equine college students – but any degree will do – the course features a two-week introduction to racing (including riding racehorses, and candidates should already be competent in the saddle) followed by a placement with a trainer.

    The courses are run to fit in with college holidays during the summer, at Christmas and Easter.

    “What this course is trying to do is give youngsters a taste of what the racing industry has to offer,” says Richard Wayman of the BRS.

    As well as an interview, places are given on the basis of a 1hr riding assessment. The course costs £175, which covers board and accommodation, while the industry pays for the training. During their placement, the students are paid a small wage by the trainer they are working with.

    The next course runs in January 2003.

  • Contact Richard Wayman (tel: 01638 665103).

    National Stud

    Packaged to fit neatly into any well-organised student’s gap year programme while leaving just enough time for that whirlwind world tour, The National Stud’s diploma course is ideal for anyone wanting to get hands-on training.

    Aimed at students with at least one year’s work experience with horses, the course runs from February to July and includes visits and lectures as well as on-the-job training.

    Graduates of this popular course are now managing some of the leading breeding operations around the world, according to administrator Caroline Turnbull, who adds that demand from the industry for The National Stud students “always outstrips supply”.

    The course and accommodation are offered free of charge, with each student receiving asmall wage.

  • Contact The National Stud (tel: 01638 663464).

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