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20 September 2021

The British Horseracing Development Programme has been the launchpad for many successful and varied careers across racing and Racing Together was pleased to hear from Isobel Carlill as she reflects on her experiences and hopes for the future

I don’t come from what might be called a racing background, but my family have always been keen racegoers, so I’ve spent many days out at the likes of Ascot, Sandown, and Goodwood. I’ve also ridden since I was young and have been fortunate enough to both own and compete horses throughout my life – so equestrian sports are something I’ve always loved and been interested in.  

Finding the programme set me on the right path

I found out about the British Horseracing Development Programme when thinking about what I was going to do after graduating from university. I’d never thought about a career within the racing industry but when I came across the programme, I quickly realised this could be the right path for me. I wasn’t necessarily a ‘keen fan’ of racing, but I now follow and enjoy the sport, and I also felt my background with horses meant I could bring something to the table. I was delighted when I found out I had been successful in my application and would be taking part in the 2021 Development Programme; the opportunities are incredible and the support and guidance we received throughout have been invaluable. 

Adaptation the name of the game  

The Development Programme usually starts with two weeks of visits, talks and networking hosted by the British Racing School in Newmarket, although ours was condensed to one week on Zoom and one in Newmarket owing to Covid. Nevertheless, the first two weeks were amazing! We were able to meet and hear from so many incredible individuals who work in the industry and share the same passion for the sport. Some highlights for me included having a talk from Ed Chamberlin as well as visiting Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket.  

After our two weeks finished all seventeen of us took on different placements in various locations, such as The Jockey Club, The Racing League, and Britbet. My placement was at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and was based with the Industry People and Development team. I have worn many hats throughout my placement and have worked across many different areas, including running raceday-based events, taking part in stable inspections, and helping to run the social media for Careers in Racing.  

Working at the BHA has brought a lot of variety and I have been fortunate enough to work alongside a number of teams, such as Raceday Operations and Anti-Doping. A particular highlight for me was shadowing the Starters at Sandown; it was so interesting to see exactly what happens at the start of each Flat race. It’s been great to meet so many different people and to be exposed to so many different parts of the horseracing industry. 

Friendships made for life

One of the best parts of the Development Programme has been the friendships that I have made. It was particularly amazing to make the week in Newmarket, especially after a long year in and out of lockdown. All of us on the 2021 Programme got along really well and I can safely say I have made some friends for life.  One thing I’ve really enjoyed about the 2021 Development Programme is that we all come from a range of backgrounds, from those who have experience in the sport to those who came to it brand new. It provides a range of perspectives and insights that helped to bring a sense of variety to the Programme.  

What’s next?

Now that the 2021 Programme is ending, I’m beginning to think about what’s next for me. I’m keen to remain within horseracing and I’m actively applying to various roles across the industry. My experience during the Programme has left me with a keen interest in equine welfare, so I’m hoping to work within this part of the industry in the future. Although I’m open-minded to any opportunity that may come my way!  

If anything, one thing I’ve definitely learnt is how helpful and friendly everyone is who works within the industry. All the people that I have met and have spoken to have taken a genuine interest in me and my career path within horseracing, and all have offered their support and guidance along the way. 

If you’re interested in working within horseracing I would strongly encourage you to reach out to anyone who you feel can help you along the way, you never know where it might lead! 

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