First generation of new ‘Rider Coaches’ to improve staff retention rates and boost career progression

13 Oct 2018 BHA Features Education/Training

  • 100% pass rate for new pilot scheme in which senior stable staff can acquire a coaching qualification to develop more inexperienced staff members
  • Aim of the scheme is to help close skills gaps for racing staff through peer coaching to improve retention rates and boost career progression
  • Another scheme will begin at the Northern Racing College this winter before national rollout

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced the first generation of stable staff ‘rider coaches’ have successfully passed their qualifications and are now certified to develop junior and more inexperienced riders in training yards.

The rider coaches have been part of a pilot scheme aimed at providing senior racing staff with coaching skills to help those within their place of work to progress their riding ability. This will address skills gaps within the workforce and aims to increase staff retention, as well as giving both the rider coaches and those they are helping better career progression opportunities.

The scheme was run by the Northern Racing College on behalf of the BHA, who jointly funded it with the Racing Foundation, and took staff from the yards of Mark Johnston, Karl Burke, Jedd O’Keeffe and Laurence Mullaney along with staff from the Northern Racing College.

Due to the demand for places on this initial course, a second course will be offered over the winter at the Northern Racing College before being rolled out nationally. The qualified rider coaches are being presented with their Level 1 Coaching Qualification by National Trainers Federation Chief Executive Rupert Arnold in a ceremony at York today.

Gill Greeves, Vocational Training Manager at the BHA, said:

“The addition of a nationally recognised coaching qualification will not only boost the career pathways of those who have taken it, but the expertise they can pass on to less experienced members of staff should help to close the skills gaps which can so often be an issue in trying to retain racing staff.

“It is testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of the first group of newly qualified rider coaches that we had a 100% pass rate on this initial pilot scheme, and we are looking forward to staging another course and rolling out the programme nationally in the coming months.

“I would like to thank both the Northern Racing College and the Racing Foundation, as well as York Racecourse for their support with the presentation ceremony.”

Andrea and Jedd O’Keeffe, who volunteered two of their employees to take part in the scheme, said:

“We were delighted to have had the opportunity to nominate experienced members of our team to take part in this exciting training initiative.

“The interview and induction process recognised the significant industry experience, existing skills, knowledge, expertise and qualities of our staff.  The course was tailored to meet the specific, individual needs of each senior member of staff to develop the coaching skills required to support and guide their team in the racing yard more effectively.

“Watching our senior staff grow in confidence through the course was fantastic. They found the course content interesting and thought provoking, the tasks were challenging, and they were highly motivated throughout. The opportunity to train alongside other senior staff from yards local to us was a real bonus, they found this very beneficial and a very positive aspect of the course.

“As the course progressed we saw our whole team benefit from the training received by the senior staff.  As a direct result of the training, our senior staff have greater confidence and skills to coach and support. This has resulted in all our employees being better supported and guided in the yard, on a day to day basis.

“Achievement of the qualification recognises our senior staff as experienced professionals with the knowledge and expertise to support anyone in the workplace who is new to the industry or wants to develop their skills.

“Taking part in this project has been a very positive experience for all our team.  We are very confident that we will see long term benefits in having trained and qualified coaches as core members of our workforce.”

Notes to editors:

1. Those who took part in the initial course are:

Alana Crawley – Jedd O’Keeffe (completed course and awaiting assessment)
Mairead Heap – Mark Johnston
Emma Johns – Laurence Mullany
Hayley Kelly – Mark Johnston
Leanne Kershaw – Jedd O’Keeffe
Ian McLelland – Karl Burke

2. The Northern Racing College  is one of two of the British Horseracing industry’s approved training providers. Based in Doncaster, it provides a wide variety of training in all aspects of the racing industry including stable staff training for Racing Grooms and training for Jockeys and Trainers.

3. The Racing Foundation was established in January 2012 by the BHA, Horsemen’s Group and Racecourse Association when it received an endowment of £78 million from the net proceeds of the UK government’s sale of the Horserace Totalisator Board (“Tote”). It was created to support charitable purposes associated with the horseracing and Thoroughbred breeding industry.