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.”