A racing opportunity: Industry opening up employment pathways for young people

Speedy business: Georgie McDonnell, champion horse Arise Augustus, Melea Castle and trainer Terry Evans. Photo: Lachlan Leeming.

Speedy business: Georgie McDonnell, champion horse Arise Augustus, Melea Castle and trainer Terry Evans. Photo: Lachlan Leeming.

Tuncurry race horse trainer Terry Evans is confident that the racing industry can provide answers to questions about youth unemployment in the area. 

Terry highlighted the employment pathway racing can present when he spoke at a Forster Tuncurry Business Chamber breakfast earlier this month. 

Georgie McDonnell, 24, and Melea Castle, 17, are prime examples of Terry’s vision.

Both young women have worked for Terry for six months, learning on the job as they study towards their certificate three in track riding.

Both harbour ambitions to be fully qualified jockeys riding in Sydney or Melbourne. 

According to the duo, a lifelong love of horses and speed have led to them choosing this career path. 

Given the long trail an apprentice must trek before they can become a fully qualified jockey, a keen passion for all aspects of the industry is a must. 

“It starts right at the bottom, right at the basics with caring for a horse,” Georgie explained of their studies.

Once a month they travel to Port Macquarie for apprentice jockey school, which teaches them everything they need to know about the industry, ranging from horse nutrition and well-being to media training.

“You learn everything about horse racing and the industry,” Melea said. 

According to Rural Skills Australia, horse racing is Australia’s second most popular spectator sport in Australia (coming in behind AFL). 

The industry employs more than 240,000 people, with 77,000 of those roles full-time.

The industry injects about $7.7 billion into the Australian economy annually. 

Terry is glad to see that translate into employment opportunities for local young people. 

“It’s a great opportunity for them,” he said.

He’s confident that his two young apprentices have a bright future in the sport. 

“They’re going well, they’ve got the right attitude,” Terry said. 

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