Photo Credit: Racing Photos
After receiving her first pony at the age of 8, Courtney Foale quickly fell in love with horses and later the racing industry.
Earlier this year Foale, decided that she wanted to pursue a full time career in racing and applied for the Explorer Cadetship Program. This innovative program gives participants an immersive year-long introduction to a career in racing, starting with 12 weeks of theory and practical learning at Western Sydney University's Hawkesbury Campus followed by nine months of paid placements with some of the country’s leading racing businesses.
Now part way through her 12 month Cadetship we caught up with Courtney to find out why this program has been so rewarding.
- How did you first get involved in horses?
I first got involved with horses at the age of eight when I got my first pony called Adam. I learnt to ride on him with my mums help and went to my local riding club with him a few time. You could often find me in the paddock as a kid, playing with him for hours.
- How long have you been involved or interested in a career in the racing industry?
I have been involved in the racing industry since 2012 when I got my first part time job cleaning stables for a local trainer in Murray Bridge. It originally was my mum’s job when I first started, I used to just tag along with her but I soon feel in love with the horses and the industry. I remember I really knew this industry was where I wanted to work when I started going to the races to help/watch my stables horses run. Being part of a team when the horse wins a race is honestly one of the best feelings in the world, even if all you have done is clean that horses yard and given it a cuddle, you still have helped that horse get to where it is and winning that race.
- Why did you apply for the Explorer Cadetship Program?
I applied for the program because I felt I was at a bit of a cross roads with my working career, I didn’t have a full time job but I was itching to get out into the industry and experience all the different aspects it has, or to be a part of a big racing stables. I wanted to be strapping at places like The Valley or Flemington in big races, as well as riding those horses, that was my dream! One of my friends actually tagged me in the advert on Facebook and I knew once I read it that this was for me, this would definitely help me accomplish my dream.
- How did you find the 3-month course at Hawksbury?
The three months at Hawksbury for me was amazing, it did come with its challenges as well. Being homesick was definitely a big one for me, but everyone in the group and my teacher from the TAFE were amazing at making me feel better. It’s definitely a great starting point for the course with the theory and riding classes, as well as days out at the races or other parts of the industry. I found that all extremely interesting, especially coming from SA racing to see how a different states racing operates was great.
- What did you learn during your time?
I learnt a lot in the three months of boot camp at Hawksbury. For me I think I learnt the most from the riding classes, they really helped me come so far with my riding ability and also my confidence. I had ridden a few horses at trackwork before but it never ended up with me riding properly for a trainer, which is what I had dreamt about for years. It was great being taught by people who ride trackwork themselves as well as an ex jockey, who knew exactly how hard it is. They all knew exactly how much I wanted to be riding and really pushed me to be my best.
- Since then, where have you been placed?
After I finished the first three months of boot camp, I then went to my first placement which was at McEvoy Mitchell Racing, at their Flemington stables. I was meant to do four and a half months there and then go to my stud but I was very lucky enough to have my placement extended to about 6 months so I could stay over most of the spring carnival. Since then I have started my stud placement at the Widden stud in the Hunter Valley in NSW, where I’ll be participating in yearling prep and attending the Gold Coast Magic Millions sales in January.
- What has it been like working for an operation like the McEvoy Mitchell Racing?
Working for the McEvoy Mitchell Racing team honestly has been a dream come true for me. For years I have admired their horses at the races and when I got into the course and found out they were a sponsor, I knew straight away which stables I wanted to be placed at. I went into my placement not expecting to ride trackwork but they were more than willing to give me a chance to have a go and I was lucky enough to get myself up to riding some gallops before I had to leave for my stud placement. Both Tony and Calvin have been amazing with their support and advice on riding the horses, as well as extremely understanding when things haven’t always gone to plan, they have always made sure I’m comfortable and understand the work.
I absolutely love the horses at the stables, and having the chance to strap at places I had only dreamt of strapping at is amazing. I got the opportunity to strap in a few group 3 races over this spring carnival. It’s definitely something I never thought I’d ever get the chance to do. The McEvoy Mitchell racing team is a brilliant supportive team that I love being a part of, once I finish my stud placement I am excited to be returning to their team.
- What are your goals/plans for the future?
I don’t really have any big plans for the future, I would love to get up riding well and to get a chance to be riding/strapping group winning horses, that would be amazing. I do have a dream of strapping a horse in the Melbourne cup so hopefully next year or a few years down the track I could get a chance to achieve that.
TRSA are currently taking applications for three scholarships into the 2020 Explorer Cadetship Program.
What is included in the Scholarship?
- All Expenses paid for over the first 12 weeks of the course. This includes tuition, accommodation and living expenses.
- The program commences in February and the program is capped at 30 students. Applications will open in late September 2019.
- The program will take 12 months to complete and once you commence you will receive minimal time off.
- Successful applicants will need to demonstrate a passion for horses, animals and/or racing and a level of equine experience or passion through the application process to be considered for the program.
- The program will involve riding and hard physical work, so students will need to be fit and healthy and have a strong work ethic and will to succeed.
All you need to do is fill in the application form, providing us with your cover letter/resume, and we will be in touch shortly! To apply now and more information click here