Melbourne Racing Club Foundation (MRC) and Melbourne Polytechnic are getting women to the Melbourne Cup and beyond, with scholarships for their TAFE Victoria horse racing industry course.
Beginning in 2016, the scholarship is helping women like McCarthy Racing trackrider Gemma Bruce burst out of the blocks in their horse racing careers by providing support with equipment, quality training and access to mentors.
Gemma’s MRC scholarship connected her to female role models in horse racing including ex-jockey Talia Rodder, who was Gemma’s program mentor.
‘It put me in direct contact with racing professionals, who provided me with support and gave me the opportunity to develop my skills in a safe and professional environment,’ Gemma says.
In a Victorian first, the Melbourne Racing Club Foundation (MRC) has partnered with Melbourne Polytechnic to fund a $50,000 scholarship for up to 12 women to study a Certificate III in Racing (Trackrider).
The scholarship aims to boost female participation in the industry along with raising safety standards on the track.
The MRC also helps graduates purchase the necessary gear for a career as a track rider.
‘If you have a passion for horses and really want to succeed with a career in the racing industry, the scholarship at Melbourne Polytechnic provides an abundance of support which, from my experience, extends beyond the classroom,’ Gemma says.
Debbie Jones, an instructor with 30 years teaching experience, says, ‘There has been a lot more interest in the course since the scholarship was introduced.’
‘In a male-dominated industry, the scholarship helps young women feel like they get more recognition for their career aspirations, and that someone out there is interested in promoting women in racing.’
‘The way we do things at Melbourne Polytechnic is really unique,’ Debbie says.
‘We have a simulated racing environment that gives people the opportunity to safely get used to the real-life demands of the industry.’
Melbourne Polytechnic’s world-class Northern Lodge Stud at Eden Park boasts a training track, ex-racehorses on site, stables and state-of-the-art equipment. The course covers horse anatomy and physiology, handling and care, riding and track work, and basic health and first aid for thoroughbreds.
The mix of practical and theoretical elements of the course produces graduates that are industry ready.
‘These facilities provided me with hands-on practical experience that I use every day working at a racing stable,’ Gemma says.
Melbourne Polytechnic also supports students in getting work placements in the industry alongside their studies.
‘The coaches from Melbourne Polytechnic (Debbie Jones, Jonna McLean and Georgia Hill) and my mentor Talia Rodder have taken an active interest in my progression within the industry since completing my studies and they’re always available to offer advice and share ideas,’ Gemma says.
The horse racing industry is employing more and more women as jockeys, track riders, trainers, farriers and other roles. Programs like Melbourne Polytechnic’s Certificate III in Racing are invaluable to support careers, encourage participation and promote safety on the track.
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