Racing: Schooling aimed at putting newcomers on course

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The Independent Online
TO BECOME a racehorse trainer, it is now necessary to attend three one-week courses at the British Racing School, on horse management, business skills and staff management. Successful graduates receive a National Vocational Qualification at level three (all stable staff must have NVQs at levels one and two).

They must then attend a formal interview at the Jockey Club before a training licence can be issued. There are four essential requirements. Applicants must have spent at least two years working as an assistant to a recognised trainer ("my dad, who's got a horse at the bottom of the garden" will not do). They must have a minimum of six horses to train, and basic facilities such as suitable boxes and gallops. They must also have access to about pounds 30,000, if necessary, to cover start-up costs and wages during their first weeks and months.

At present, there are about 520 licensed trainers in Britain, and until the introduction of mandatory training courses about three months ago, an annual "churn" rate of 10 per cent was normal, with about 50 trainers giving up the game and another 50 taking their place.

The overall number now seems certain to drop, however. Grant Harris, chief executive of the National Trainers' Federation, estimates that by this time next year, there could be as few as 400 trainers in Britain.