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Ellie Cross leading up at the races 19 March 2019

A year on from graduating from the Take The Reins programme, via Richard Fahey Racing and the Northern Racing College, Ellie Cross talks about her experience of the racing industry so far

From Graduate to Ambassador

I’m so pleased to write my second blog post for Racing Together. It’s seems a long time ago that I found my passion for racing thanks to youth charity Flying Futures on the Take The Reins programme (see original blog here), but it was only a year!

I feel I’ve found my feet at Jedd O’Keeffe’s yard having made the connection with my job through Take The Reins and Richard Fahey Racing. I went on to complete a 12-week Diploma course in Horsecare and Riding and now am proud to be an ambassador for the Programme, which opens doors to racing for people who otherwise may not come into contact with the sport. They provided me with information, support and the links to get into the sport a year ago.

A challenging start but great to be part of the team

My year since getting my racing pass has flown by and was filled with lots of great times and fantastic memories from my first day on the yard to the present day, I have absolutely loved it.

The first few months were hard I’m not going to lie, being away from my family and not knowing my way around the yard had its challenges. I live in a house with other people on the yard and soon became great friends with them all. I got into the routine of waking up early, mucking out horses and doing other jobs on the yard. After a short few weeks I began to know the team a lot better and felt more at ease. We all sit in the house in the morning for breakfast after first lot with Jedd and Andrea and talk about racing, what’s been happening during the week and it’s the perfect time for a good gossip.

Ellie Cross leading up for Jedd O'Keeffe

Choosing horses and leading up

In January, I got to pick which horses I would like to look after for the year. I chose two horses I had last year and got two new ones because mine went elsewhere. I have been racing numerous times, which started off at Newcastle with a horse called Pretty Moi. Since then I have led up at many different courses, such as Doncaster, Haydock Park, York, Ayr, Sedgefield and many more. I’ve even led up a few winners and best turned-out awards!

Ellie riding out for Jedd O'Keeffe

Apart from the very cold and dark mornings, there is nothing else I don’t really like about my job apart from when the horses you adore leave or become retired for various reasons. I get to work alongside the farrier and vet, which I find interesting and I learn new things all the time. The best part of my job is going to the races and turning the horse out to a high standard.

My first winner is one I won’t forget

My career highlight so far has got to be leading up my very first winner at Newcastle racecourse. No words can describe the feeling of seeing a horse that you look after and have a very strong bond with win a race. I cried and jumped for joy while my parents watched it on television.

I feel very proud to have been asked to be an ambassador for Take the Reins and would encourage everyone out there who loves horses as much as I do to follow their dreams. Even though it is very hard work and challenging at times, you have to love your job and push yourself and the rewards will come to you. I hope by being a part of Take the Reins it shows other people how to get into the racing industry and how wonderful it actually is.

I did it, so can you!

Take The Reins has worked with over 1,000 young people during the past year to provide them with knowledge and understanding of the racing industry, and given advice on how to pursue careers within the industry. This year’s Pilot is funded by the Racing Foundation to allow the initiative to move forward to provide long-term benefit to young people and to support the industry’s future staffing needs. Find out more about Take The Reins here.

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