2020 Fast Track Graduates from left: Dannielle Murphy, Lauryn Hall, Macey Irving, Ella Baird, Tess O’Connor, Celeste Kruger, Tom Giles and Brianna Sheffield. Absent: Roxley Duggan and Liz Richardson.

The third crop of the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) Fast Track Program celebrated their graduation in a ceremony at Scone on Tuesday night.

Launched in 2018 by TBA in collaboration with TAFE NSW, Fast Track was designed to create a structured pathway to bring new workers into the breeding industry.

Over the past 12 months, the group have studied for a Certificate III in Horse Breeding while completing full-time traineeships with some of the country’s most respected stud farms, including Godolphin, Vinery, Widden, Segenhoe, Kitchwin Hills and Twin Hills.

“The program is now in its fourth year and it is proving a great way to bring people to our industry that would otherwise never come to work on a farm,” said TBA’s Chief Executive Officer, Tom Reilly.

“Our successful candidates have a mix of backgrounds; some having lots of horse experience, while others have never touched a horse, but have a passion for racing or interest in pedigrees before starting the course. Almost none of them, however, have a background with thoroughbreds.”

Along with the formal units of study, the program also includes a number of additional lectures from leaders in the industry, ensuring trainees develop a good understanding of different aspects of breeding.  

There is also a strong focus on personal development and transferable skills with the group taking part in first aid, defensive driver training and float towing with NRMA, workshops on workplace behavior and mental health, as well as quad bike and side-by-side training.

“Fast Track does an incredibly valuable job bringing young people into the industry and we’ve had a great experience taking trainees every year,” said Mick Malone of Kitchwin Hills.

“Everyone running a farm knows how hard it is to find staff, so this initiative is really important.”

With three intakes having completed the program, some 90% of graduates are still working in the thoroughbred industry.

The group that received their certificates on Tuesday included trainees from every state in Australia, with the exception of Tasmania. Due to COVID restrictions the class size was limited and all students had to begin their placements on NSW farms.

 “It’s incredibly rewarding to see the growth and development of our trainees over the 12-month period,” said Program Coordinator, Cecelia O’Gorman.

“Our 2020 graduates are an extremely passionate bunch and I can’t wait to see what they go on to achieve. In addition to those still working in Australia, we’ve had graduates complete the Irish National Stud Course, a two-time finalist in the Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards Newcomer category, and just last week, one of our alumni was awarded a spot on Godolphin’s Flying Start program.”

The 2021 intake for Fast Track began in Scone last month with trainees from NSW, Queensland and South Australia. Applications for the 2022 program will open early in the New Year with more information available at

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