TAFE courses prepare Jockeys for life-after-racing

Jason Lee

The Racing NSW Jockeys Assistance Program continues to provide great benefits for retired jockeys who are looking at other careers after racing.

The program has been in place for five years now since being launched by Racing NSW with the support of the NSW Jockeys Association, which focuses on re-education and re-skilling of retired jockeys as they embark on new vocations.

With most jockeys commencing their riding apprenticeship after leaving school at a young age, the challenge of re-education at later stage can be a daunting task.

“The opportunity for former jockeys to re-educate themselves and start a new career has never been better in NSW,” Racing NSW Industry Training GM, Maurice Logue, said.

“Careers in the saddle don’t last forever and this program paves the way for further education and financial incentives that benefit jockeys when retirement looms.”

One of those key benefits is access to funding of education programs to assist jockeys with planning their next profession, or enhancing their current skills.

The program is supported by careers counsellors from Racing NSW training partner, TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute.

The counsellors engage in a professional discussion with jockeys commencing the program to determine their interests, skills and strengths before further education or career options are determined.

After consultation with a counsellor, various courses can then be completed by correspondence or by distance education, as well as a classroom environment depending on the learners needs, which allows participants to complete their studies at their own place - at their own pace.

Several former jockeys have benefited from the program already, with some moving into a range of different careers from aged care and business careers, as well as alternate racing careers such as racehorse trainers and horse transport drivers.

Retired jockey Jason Lee is one who has been retained in the racing industry after completing an Equine Dentistry course in 2014.

Jason is pleased that he participated in the program as he now runs a thriving business servicing many leading Sydney metropolitan horse trainers.

“It’s been a great transition for me to move into equine dentistry with a qualification and new profession,” he said.

“I still work with a lot of the same people that I used to ride for and things couldn’t be better.”

Jason said while moving into a new trade can be daunting, he was provided with support along the way by Racing NSW.

“The Jockeys Assistance Program helped me financially with the course and I found the whole process straight-forward and rewarding,” he said.

“It really is a fantastic program for retired jockeys and there is a range of different pathways which they can follow. For me, I am happy that I am still working in racing and doing something that I enjoy.

“It’s good to look to the future and I encourage other jockeys to follow suit.”

Former Northern Rivers-based jockey Darron Coleman was the first to take advantage of the program when it was launched in 2011.

Darron, who retired from race riding in 2009, started a new profession by establishing his own coffee shop called Sirocco in Ballina.

Like many jockeys, Darron did not have the chance to complete formal training in areas outside of racing. He contacted the OTEN Counselling & Career Development Service where a range of options where discussed.

In reviewing his role in the business, existing skills, availability, and other career factors, a submission for barista and food safety training was made, with the view to eventually consider other training needs as Darron’s career continued to evolve.

“When I heard about the Jockeys Assistance Program, I enquired straight away,” Coleman said.

“All jockeys know that racing doesn’t last forever and you need a career after racing. I, like a lot of jockeys, left school at a young age so there wasn’t much education.”

After receiving some start-up business seed funding and completing a Barista course to provide him the coffee making skills he needed, Darron also completed a Certificate III Small Business Management course which enabled him to not only conduct the financial side of the business but also manage several employees.

Darron now actively encourages other jockeys to follow suit and prepare for life after racing.

“I encourage all jockeys out there to take advantage of the opportunity to further their education through the Jockeys Assistance Program,” he said.

“It has been a great benefit to me and I’m sure that the program will help other jockeys out there.”

Enquiries can be made regarding the Jockeys Assistance Program by contacting Maurice Logue on (02) 9551 7525.