TWENTY-three young people graduated from the SOLAS / KWETB Trainee Jockey programme at the Racing Academy & Centre of Education (RACE) recently and most are now proceeding to take up employment in the industry.
Twelve girls were among the group who successfully completed the ten-month residential programme and were presented with their certificates and prizes by John Oxx and Michael Halford at a ceremony on the Kildare town campus.
This year’s graduates received a QQI Level 4 award in Horsemanship (Racehorse Care & Riding) along with a bronze Gaisce award for completing all four elements of the personal achievement programme, including charity fund-raising and an overnight hike.
Six of the successful graduates were from Co Kildare this year and the main prize of ‘Trainee Jockey of the Year’ was awarded to Eamonn Fitzgerald from Clane. Eamonn also won the prize for Sportsperson of the Year.
Jamie Powell from Kildare town shared the ‘Most Improved Rider’ award with Luke Carberry from Meath.
Eamonn Fitzgerald, who completed his work experience with trainer Michael Halford, is commencing employment in that yard, while Jamie Powell will continue working with John Oxx. The other Kildare graduates are Ada Higgins-Corrigan from Clane, Chloe Byrne from Naas, Denis Collins from Monasterevin and Philip Egan from the Curragh.
Cheques were presented by trainees to three charities – animal rescue My Lovely Horse, the Irish Injured Jockeys and Pieta House – arising from their fund-raising efforts over the year, which included a sponsored Bogathon run.
Nine of the group will be remaining in residence at RACE for another year as they progress their careers and several of them will be taking the opportunity to further their education by completing a Level 5 Horsemanship award on a part-time basis.