NRC and first generation of rider coaches

  • 100% pass rate for new pilot scheme which gives senior stable staff a coaching qualification to develop the skills of 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 roll-out

The first group of stable staff ‘rider coaches’ has successfully passed qualifications delivered under a pilot scheme by the Northern Racing College. They are now certified to develop the riding ability of junior and more inexperienced riders in training yards.

The pilot scheme is aimed at providing senior racing staff with coaching skills that will address gaps within the workforce. The intention is to increase staff retention, as well as giving rider coaches and those they are helping better career progression opportunities.

The scheme was run by the Northern Racing College on behalf of the British Horseracing Authority, which jointly funded it with the Racing Foundation. Staff from the Yorkshire yards of Mark Johnston, Karl Burke, Jedd O’Keeffe and Laurence Mullaney took part.

Due to the demand for places on the initial course, a second course will be offered over the winter at the Northern Racing College before being rolled out nationally. Qualified rider coaches were presented with their Level 1 Coaching Qualification by National Trainers Federation chief executive Rupert Arnold at York racecourses on Saturday 14 October.

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 retaining racing staff.

“It is testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of the first group of newly qualified rider coaches that we had a 100 per cent 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.”

as York Racecourse for their support with the presentation ceremony.”

Andrew O’Keeffe, who with her trainer-husband Jedd had two employees on 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.

Andrew O’Keeffe added: “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.”
Those who took part were: Alana Crawley, Leanne Kershaw (Jedd O’Keeffe), Mairead Heap, Hayley Kelly (Mark Johnston), Emma Johns (Laurence Mullaney) and Ian McLelland (Karl Burke).