Amazing, fantastic and thrilling. Just some of the many positive words that the ten Irish Pony Club members used to describe their experiences at the 2019 RACE Jockey Skills Course.
This year our ten successful candidates were given a two-day jockey skills taster course providing them with a chance to experience the racing industry and the life of a professional jockey first hand. The participants received coaching in race riding skills, fitness, racehorse care and training. The riders were also given instruction in video reviews and simulator instruction.
The ten candidates arrived at Curragh House on Friday the 6th of September for the two-day course. Firstly, they were shown their rooms and directed to a briefing outlining the schedule for the two days. The course began straight away with the candidates meeting their horses for the weekend and learning the correct procedure for tacking them up. During an assessment ride on Friday afternoon, instructors provided each rider with helpful suggestions and feedback on how to improve their race horse riding skills. Following this the riders learned how to feed their horses and received simulator instruction. Friday evening brought another tough fitness assessment for the candidates followed by a delicious dinner and free time to build new friendships with their fellow riders.
Saturday 7th September began with an early start and breakfast at 7.30am. The riders did the morning yard work, tacked up and rode out, two different rides of horses. The second ride out included horses that the riders had not ridden before, presenting them with another interesting and challenging experience. Simulator training followed the morning workout, where instructors gave the riders pointers on how to correct their position and balance in the saddle. Lunch, simulator training and another fitness work out completed the second day of the course.
In the words of Seersha Watson from Bray Hunt Branch, “it was one of the best weekends of my life and we learned so much!” Seersha continued to say that “it was an amazing course which I would recommend to anyone who wishes to race!” Ted O’Leary from Westmeath Hunt Branch noted that “from stable management to riding the racehorses at RACE, we experienced all practical aspects of a racing stable.” Jessica Stokes, Tipperary Hunt Branch had the most fantastic weekend at race. “From the moment, I arrived until the moment I left. I came away from the weekend having learned a lot, had great fun and made some great friends.” Lauren Hartley, a member of Waterford Hunt Branch found the experience both positive and valuable. “It was really interesting and beneficial to have this insight into how the racing community works. Riding the simulators was very educational and something I hadn’t done before. All the horses were very well behaved and the facilities were amazing. All the staff were lovely.” The highlight for Holly Gleeson from Newcastle Lyons Branch was the challenge of riding the different race horses. “Of course, the most exciting part was getting to ride the different racehorses, the instructors were always striving for you to achieve your best and constantly helped you improve. We got to use their top-class simulators which were extremely beneficial helping us improve our position.” Rory O’Donnell, Scarteen Hunt Branch was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this Jockey Skills course. The best part of the course for Rory was that “we got to ride out retired race horses that had very good careers before joining RACE.”
Congratulations to Seersha Watson, Bray Hunt Branch, Rory O'Donnell, Scarteen Hunt Branch, Lauren Hartley, Waterford Hunt Branch, Holly Gleeson, Newcastle Lyons Branch, Jessica Stokes, Tipperary Hunt Branch, Jack Lucey, Muskerry Hunt Branch, David Russell, Scarteen Hunt Branch, Alexandra Egan, Kildare Hunt Branch, Ted O'Leary, Westmeath Hunt Branch and Rachel D'Arcy, Shillelagh and District Hunt Branch. You represented the Irish Pony Club, your Branches and your families with distinction.
Participating in this course is the opportunity of a life time for Irish Pony Club members. We are privileged to be able to send ten members to RACE each year, to avail of the knowledge and skills of the academies fantastic team of instructors and coaches. RACE is a world-leading centre for training and education within the thoroughbred racing industry. Thank you to all of the staff in RACE for providing this wonderful experience for our IPC members. Special thanks to Keith Rowe for all of his assistance and to Áine O’Connor who was brilliant with our members over the two days, a fantastic role model.
All ten of our members successfully passed their RACE assessment and will now participate in an Exhibition Ride at the Curragh Racecourse on Saturday 28th September 2019 at 5.45pm.