Fast Track A Career With Thoroughbreds

2021 Fast Track Intake

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia’s (TBA) highly popular Fast Track program is now open for applications.

Now entering its fifth year, the national training scheme offers young people with a passion for horses a pathway into the breeding sector.

Developed in response to the industry staffing shortage, the 12-month program is designed to target people from outside of breeding and racing and introduce them to Australia’s vibrant thoroughbred scene.

“The program has proved its success with 90 per cent of graduates still working in the industry, so it’s exciting to start the process of finding our next recruits,” said TBA chief executive, Tom Reilly.

“Fast Track is designed to give the trainees a great education and provide them with the foundational skills and knowledge needed to build successful careers in the industry.”

Successful applicants commence a full-time traineeship with a stud farm while studying for a Certificate III in Horse Breeding – a nationally recognised formal qualification. They are paid a full time wage, even while studying.

To complement the on-the-job learning, students attend two intensive learning blocks in Scone (six weeks in total), where they receive a mix of practical training and classroom theory, as well as take part in a variety of field trips and personal development workshops.

Fast Track is open to anyone in Australia who is 18 years and over, and previous graduates have come from far and wide, including Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

Twins Hills Stud have taken trainees in each of the past three intakes and owner Olly Tait praised the standard of the young people on the program.

“Fast track is a fantastic initiative. People are at the core of the horse business and the more good people we can attract into the industry the better,” he said.

“We have been involved with Fast Track for a number of years and we have been very impressed with the quality of the people who taking part in the program.”

Upon finishing Fast Track students are eligible to apply for the Basil Nolan Jnr scholarship, which sees TBA fund one place per year on the prestigious Irish National Stud Breeding Course. Two Fast Track graduates have so far completed their studies in Ireland – both gaining distinctions – while a third has just begun her studies in Kildare.

Sam Hayes from Cornerstone Stud in South Australia, who took their first trainee in 2021, said he was keen to continue his farms involvement.

“Giving young people a pathway to enter our industry has never been more important over the past couple of years. We have had a great experience with Fast Track this season and look forward to welcoming more students to the farm in the future,” he said.

Applicants are preferred to have basic horse handling skills but prior experience with thoroughbreds isn’t necessary.

Trainees have enjoyed placements on farms in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland and with planning underway for the biggest intake yet, TBA are calling for farms from all states to get in contact if they are interested in taking on a student.

“Our aim is to bring in people who have horse experience but little exposure to thoroughbreds, however in each year so far we have taken on somebody with no hands on horse experience but who has shown a real interest in our industry. Perhaps surprisingly, those trainees have done really well,” added Reilly.

“If any farm is interest in taking a trainee they should reach out to TBA to find out what’s involved.”

To apply for the Fast Track Program 2022 click here. Applications close February 28. Email to find out more information.

TBA seeks a project manager for education and training

Australia’s peak body for the thoroughbred breeding industry, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, is looking for an Industry Training, Education & Project Manager to drive projects in education and across the remit of the organisation.

Our goal is to create an education offering that will promote lifelong, fulfilling careers in the Australian Thoroughbred Breeding industry.

As the Industry Training, Education and Project Manager, you will understand how industry-specific training and education can be used to attract and retain people in an industry.

You will also be expected to work across a range of other industry projects as part of a small committed team. These projects are likely to be in the welfare and research and development area.

You will be charged with strategic planning and executing tactics to:

  • Increase awareness, accessibility, and uptake of training programs for prospective and existing participants in the thoroughbred industry.
  • Increase awareness and uptake of job opportunities in the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.

The Role

  • Develop strategy and tactics for the breeding industry to recruit and train new people into the industry
  • Develop strategy and tactics for the breeding industry to upskill existing workforce with goal of retaining employees in the industry.
  • Work with TAFE and other tertiary education institutions to create new, bespoke industry training programs.
  • Expand geographical reach of existing industry training program Fast Track.
  • Manage existing education and training projects including domestic and foreign student industry placements and internships.
  • Liaise with bloodstock industry leaders including other associations, breeders, stud farms, sales agencies, agents, existing owners and prospective owners.

About You

You will have empathy for the Australian thoroughbred breeding and racing industries.
You will have experience as a course director or experience creating and/or managing course creation ideally with an RTO or other tertiary institution.
You will have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
You have excellent time management skills and can prioritise jobs.
This role is based in the Sydney office with travel required to farms, sales, training events and race days.

To Apply

Please submit:

  • a current resume outlining relevant experience and education
  • a cover letter stating how your experience and education will enable you to do the job
  • send the above to
  • All applications will be treated in strictest confidence.

Changes to Skilled Visas

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) welcomes changes to the skilled migration occupation list that benefit the breeding industry, announced by the federal government today.

A significant alteration to the visa scheme is the reinstatement of the occupation ‘horse trainer’ to the list of occupations under which employers can hire skilled workers from overseas. This occupation category is the one currently used to bring in the majority of foreign breeding staff.

Basil Nolan, president of TBA, said: “On behalf of the TBA I’d like to thank the government for listening to us breeders, as well as the broader racing industry, on what our needs are. We don’t employ big numbers of foreign workers, but those that are here are a vital part of the workforce and in a global business such as breeding we need to continue to have access to these highly skilled people.”

Mr Nolan added: “We also owe thanks to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who met with us to discuss this issue face to face and gave us a commitment he would assist on our behalf.

“I should also point out that it is testament to the continued efforts of TBA under our chief executive Tom Reilly to improve our industry’s standing in Canberra that we were able to have such a meeting a receive such a commitment.

“Finally, I would like to thank Barry O’Farrell at Racing Australia for his ongoing efforts on this issue as well as the Australian Trainers’ Association and NSW Trainers’ Association.”

TBA will continue to work with the relevant government departments to ensure all future changes to skilled visa programs meet the needs of the breeding industry.



New advisory panel announced for Australian Thoroughbred industry

The newly-formed Thoroughbred Advisory Panel will meet for the first time on 28 June 2017 and host a forum with industry and researchers to discuss research and development (R&D) opportunities for the Australian Thoroughbred industry.

The establishment of the advisory panel follows the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce’s announcement of a new levy to provide the thoroughbred breeding industry with greater certainty about future R&D funding.

The levy, to be managed and invested by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), is expected to collect $400,000 from the industry each year. The Coalition Government will match expenditure by RIRDC on eligible thoroughbred R&D dollar-for-dollar.

The levy will be set at a rate of $10 per mare covered per season, paid by the stallion owner and $10 per mare returned per season, paid by the broodmare owner. Additional voluntary contributions will compliment levies collected and be available for research investment.

“This forum is an opportunity for industry representatives to present to the Thoroughbred Advisory Panel on the capacity each of their organisation holds in equine research,” said RIRDC Program Manager, Research and Innovation, Michael Beer.

Stud farms across Australia will benefit from the new industry-backed R&D levy, aimed at improving thoroughbred breeding while combatting diseases and parasites in horses.

The thoroughbred racing industry is worth around $5 billion per annum to the Australian economy, and employs more than 65,000 people, particularly in rural and regional areas.

The advisory panel is chaired by Professor Nigel Perkins from the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland. He is recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in the field of veterinary epidemiology.

Other panel members are Jacqueline Stewart, (Keeper of the Australian Stud Book), Dr Catherine Chicken (consultant to the Scone Equine Hospital on pathology and infectious disease), Judith Medd (Racing and Wagering Western Australia Industry Veterinarian), Derek Field (Widden Stud General Manager) and Tas Rielley (owner/operator of Basinghall Broodmare Farm).

The Thoroughbred Advisory Panel will meet on Wednesday 28 June and host a forum for industry and researchers on Thursday 29 June from 9am to 3pm.

Media contact: Samantha Munro, RIRDC Manager, Communications (Impact)  | ph: 02 6923 6916 | m: 0409 966 182

New national role for TBV’s Patrick Clancy

Patrick Clancy

TBV’s Executive Officer Patrick Clancy will soon take up a national role with Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA), while still maintaining his position at TBV.

The new position will see him work between the two organisations from his base at the TBV office in Flemington.

The focus of Patrick’s new role as TBA’s Director of Policy will include a national welfare policy, working on the new research & development levy and driving increased engagement between TBA and Australian breeders.

In addition to this change, TBV are currently in the process of recruiting a new marketing and communications officer. It is expected this position will be filled in July in readiness for a busy Victorian breeding season.

TBV President James O’Brien said the dual role situation to be held by Patrick was a win-win situation.

“Since his appointment in July 2015, Patrick has taken TBV to a new level helping to significantly increase its engagement with members of the industry, attract major new sponsors and grow links with other racing bodies and governments.

“Over the past two years, with Patrick on board, we have worked closely with Racing Victoria and secured the $1.5 m VOBIS Sires scheme along with the first increases to Super VOBIS bonuses in almost a decade.

“Under the change at the TBV office, we will maintain access to Patrick’s expertise and passion for the industry while also employing an additional officer to help promote Victorian breeding and assist TBV members.

“The Victorian thoroughbred breeding sector is going from strength to strength with major new investments by international and local breeders alike in quality new mares and stallions along with the upgrading of properties.

“And the performances by Victorian bred horses on the track this season has been stunning with no less than 14 Victorian bred wins across Australia along with international Group 1 winners such as Lucky Bubbles.

“And you can’t go past the fact that the winners of the past two Golden Slippers were sired by stallions standing in Victoria this year.

“The future for Victorian breeding is very bright.”

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia To Fund Research & Development

Barnaby Joyce

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) is pleased to announce it will contribute $200,000 to fund research and development for the breeding industry.

The money will be placed into a newly created thoroughbred R&D levy scheme and will be matched by the federal government when spent. By making the substantial donation, TBA will enable research projects to begin early in the coming financial year.

“This contribution will have an immediate impact as it means research can begin on issues that breeders know are important. The way the levy is collected, if we were to wait on the mandatory contributions it is unlikely we’d be able to start projects until 2018,” said TBA president Basil Nolan.

Under the new levy, which was included in the recent federal budget and will be in place in the new financial year, breeders will pay $10 per mare and $10 per mare covered paid by the stallion owner. This will raise about $400,000 per year that will be put in the fund for R&D, with the federal government then matching every industry dollar.

It is expected with voluntary contributions, such as the money from TBA, some $1 million could be available to spend each year on research that benefits the thoroughbred breeding industry.

TBA is in the process of selecting the board that will oversee the spending of the funds and there will be a strong representation of breeders to ensure the money goes towards projects that return real benefits to the breeding industry.

Tom Reilly, the chief executive of TBA, said: “Research into disease control, fertility and many other valuable areas is crucial to the long term health of our industry.

“The board had discussed previously funding projects but, as we made progress with establishing a government matched levy, it made sense to hold off so that the money TBA contributed to research was effectively doubled.

“I’d like to thank Racing Australia for their support as it is through the Australian Stud Book that the levy will be collected and they have been working hard to ensure this is possible from a technology front.”

Such levy schemes are common in agriculture with many areas of primary production; such as cotton, beef and grains, all receiving dollar for dollar funding from the government in this way.

Among the areas likely to be the focus of research are the prevention and management of exotic and indigenous diseases, improving the conception rates of mares and stallions and efforts to reduce foetal loss caused by contagious diseases.

Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, said the levy will produce a huge return for breeders.

Barnaby Joyce
Image: Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, with Peter O¹Brien of Segenhoe Stud, Tom Reilly of TBA and Derek Field of Widden Stud at Tamworth racecourse this month.

“This levy will provide industry with greater certainty about available funding in future years and enable forward-year planning to deliver priority R&D for the benefit of the whole industry,” he said.

“The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences estimates a $12 return for industry from every $1 invested, which is good for industry, and good for those at the farm gate.”


For further information please contact TBA Chief Executive Tom Reilly on 0423 146 334

TBA Welcomes Government Funds For New Research & Development Levy

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has said the government is committed to supporting the thoroughbred breeding industry.

Mr Joyce, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, was speaking at an announcement to confirm the approval of government funds for an industry led research and development levy.

“The breeding and racing industry is something that is very important to regional Australia and to me personally,” he said at Tamworth racecourse today (Wed May 17).

“The breeders made it very clear to me that this levy was something they needed and I went in to bat for it in Cabinet. There was some opposition but I’m glad I was able to deliver on it.”

Under the levy, which was included in last week’s budget and will be in place in the new financial year, breeders will pay $10 per mare and $10 per stallion return. This will be put in a fund for R&D with the federal government then matching every industry dollar.

It is expected this could lead to some $1 million being spent each year on research that benefits the thoroughbred breeding industry.

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia chief executive Tom Reilly said having the government commit funds in the budget was the culmination of years of lobbying efforts.

“Getting the government to commit to this important levy was something the TBA board made clear was a priority when I joined the organisation,” said Mr Reilly.

“We are in the process of selecting the board which will oversee the spending of the funds and there will be a strong presence of breeders to ensure the money goes towards projects that return real benefits to the breeding industry.”

Such schemes are common in agriculture with many areas of primary production, such as cotton, beef and grains, all receiving dollar for dollar funding from the government in this way.

Among the areas likely to be the focus of research are the prevention and management of exotic and indigenous diseases, improving the conception rates of mares and stallions and efforts to reduce foetal loss caused by contagious diseases.

Mr Joyce added: “This levy will provide the industry with greater certainty about available funding in future years and enable forward-year planning to deliver priority R&D for the benefit of the whole industry.”


For more information contact Tom Reilly on 0423 146 334
Media contact for Barnaby Joyce: Megan Dempsey 0491 222 306

Niall Blair Attends Newmarket

Minister Visit

As buyers gathered for the final day of inspections ahead of the Inglis Australian Easter sale, the NSW state government minister Niall Blair was among those viewing the horses on offer.

Mr Blair, who is minister for primary industries as well as trade and industry, was hosted by Aushorse and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) during his visit to the Newmarket sale complex.

“It’s great to see a minister take a real interest in what’s going on here and understand the importance of the thoroughbred industry to the NSW and national economy,” said Aushorse and TBA chief executive Tom Reilly.

After inspecting yearlings Mr Blair sat down for lunch in the Widden marquee with Antony Thomspon, Teo Ah Khing of China Horse Club, Godolphin’s Henry Plumptre Tom Reilly, Bruce Neil, owner of Cressfield Stud, Inglis boss Mark Webster, Arthur Mitchell of Yarraman Park Stud and Coolmore’s Tom Magnier.

The lunch provided an opportunity to discuss the key issues for the breeding industry, from coal mining in the Hunter to trade opportunities overseas.

Mr Blair said the thoroughbred industry made a valuable contribution to the state economy.

“It’s incredible to see so much hard work and perseverance come together for the three day Easter yearling sale. The strength of the thoroughbred industry is a great barometer for the NSW economy more broadly”

While the visit provided the National Party member with a meeting with some of the leading players in the industry, Mr Blair is more than familiar with thoroughbreds through a strong family connection and a love of horses.

With up to half of the buyers at the Easter sale coming from overseas, Mr Blair also noted the growing importance of foreign investment to the growth of the Australian thoroughbred industry.

“These are valuable dollars that could be spent in many other countries, and it’s a testament to the quality of our local horse breeders and their staff, that foreign buyers target our yearlings,” he said.

Antony Thompson, chairman of Aushorse, was thrilled to see a senior member of the government visit the sale.

“It should reassure all breeders that there is a senior minister who understands the horse business and is interested in supporting our industry,” he said.

Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards Return for 2017

They have helped to transform a stable foreman into a G1 trainer; they’ve helped old racehorses find new homes; and they’ve given strength and encouragement to the thousands who perform everyday work in stables and on studs across Australia.

In 2017, the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards will again recognise those whose efforts go largely unnoticed and whose work is as vital as any other to the success and survival of the racing and breeding industries.

The Awards conducted by Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia will again honour workers in the stud and stable categories of Leadership, Dedication to Racing, Dedication to Breeding, Horsemanship and Thoroughbred Care and Welfare, plus a further category of Administration and Ancillary Services.

An overall Thoroughbred Excellence winner is chosen from the five stud and stable section winners.

Since their inception in Australia in 2015, the Awards have acknowledged outstanding talent, contribution and dedication, not only among the winners, but all who entered.

For one-time stable foreman, Mark Newnham, the inaugural Excellence Award winner in 2015, the GSSSA helped provide both the confidence and the means to set up a racing stable that produced a G1 Golden Slipper runner in its first full year of operation.

“When you’re starting out you need plenty of help, financial and otherwise, and that’s what the Awards gave me,” Newnham said.

“But most of all it’s the recognition. So many of the entrants are people who start work before dawn and do some of the toughest jobs in the business.

“And they do it more for the love of racing and of the horses than for anything else.”

The 2016 Thoroughbred Excellence Award winner Jenny Watson, the foaling supervisor at Armidale Stud in Tasmania, echoed those sentiments.

“There are so many good people out there who deserve recognition, I’m just thrilled to be one of them,” she said.

“I find it amazing to be recognised for doing something I love and I can’t thank TBA, Racing Australia and Godolphin enough for acknowledging all the people who keep the industry going.”

Each GSSSA winner receives $10,000 with $1000 going to the runners-up and $3000 to be shared among each winner’s work colleagues.

The Thoroughbred Excellence Award carries an additional $5000 prize.

Nominations are now open and close on Sunday April 16, 2017.

GSSSA Australia

An Important Message for Breeders on the Thoroughbred Research & Development Levy

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) has formally lodged an application for a federal government funded thoroughbred research and development levy.

The levy, which will generate close to $2.4 million over the next three years for research and development projects, is set to be implemented in the new financial year.

It will be funded by mandatory breeder contributions collected by the Australian Stud Book. Stallion owners will pay a $10 levy per mare covered and broodmare owners will pay a $10 levy per mare returned. This money will then be matched by the Commonwealth Government.

TBA will soon begin consultation with breeders on drawing up a list of priorities for research, but areas likely to receive funding include disease control, reproduction and welfare.

As part of the application process TBA advises any levy payer who objects to the Research and Development Levy to contact the department of Agriculture. The formal period for any objections will close at 5pm AEDT on 13 February 2017.

Objections must list reasons why the levy is opposed and provide suitable supporting arguments and evidence, together with your contact details.

TBA president Basil Nolan said breeders would see the matched levy as a vital resource.

“Having almost $1million to spend on research year after year on breeding will be very valuable. It gives our industry certainty and means we can develop research projects that will bring real benefits to all breeders,” he said.

“Up till now spending on research has been sporadic and we’ve not been able to plan as a nationwide industry.”

Organisations and individuals can also make contributions to the levy, with these monies also eligible for matching by the federal government. Racing Australia, the owner of the Australian Stud Book, has already committed to putting $150,000 into the levy.

The TBA initially lodged a levy application in 2013 but this was rejected. After extensive lobbying by the breeders’ peak body, Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, committed to support the levy in the lead up to the 2016 federal election. The fund also has the backing of shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.


Note: Objections may be made in writing to the government, through the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources – Levies, by email to: or by post to:

Attn: Levies Management
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Locked Bag 4488

If you would like more information about the R&D levy, please either email TBA CEO Tom Reilly or call 02 9663 8581.

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