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Melbourne race goers will probably spend more time thinking about their outfits than the behind-the-scenes mechanics of the Melbourne Cup Carnival. But whether you’re horse mad or fashion focused, it’s possible to land a great gig in this colourful industry. Want to gallop into a great role? Try these career ideas.
Organising a Birdcage marquee is an art that Lauren Robinson from event agency Larger Than Life has mastered in her work with Lavazza. ‘There’s a lot of project management, liaising with builders, architects and designers – it’s almost like building a small house’ she explains. ‘On the day, I look after the VIPs as well as styling, catering, entertainment and celebrity transport!’ When hiring, Robinson looks for passion and people skills. ‘Working in events is about being able to deal with everyone from the guy installing the toilets to the top international celebrity,’ she explains.
Racing and statistics go hand-in-hand, so there are plenty of roles for maths brains in this field. Case in point is Josh Kay, who has carved out a niche as a statistics researcher at Channel Seven. He collates all the data to brief key personnel like Bruce McAvaney, Channel Seven’s racing host. How did he score this role? ‘I studied commerce then did a Graduate Certificate of Business (Sport Management) at Deakin University,’ he says.
The Spring Racing Carnival is an international affair and it’s Jane Rogan’s job to make sure that the international riders are looked after. She helps to navigate quarantine, licenses, accommodation and anything else needed. ‘It takes a lot of people management,’ says Rogan, who studied horse management and has experience working in racing stables, ‘It’s a case of meeting people in the industry and putting yourself out there.’
Handicappers equalise races by assigning weights to horses based on statistics. ‘It’s a lot of work going through and adjusting the ratings of all these horses,’ explains David Hegan, Racing Victoria handicapper. ‘We are like a lawyer in one sense – we have to have a solid argument of why one horse is rated above another horse, based on facts and figures and a bit of discretion as well.’ Hegan completed a finance and statistics degree then an equine studies course. ‘It’s a niche field – there’s only three of us in Victoria,’ he explains. ‘There’s no official qualification but if you have a sports background and an eye for detail you would be in good stead to do form analysis.’
'There's no official qualification but if you have a sports background and an eye for detail you would be in good stead to do form analysis.'
Handicapper, Racing Victoria
The best way to get a gig doing this is to win a Fashions on the Field event – just like Brodie Worrell, 22, did one year. The owner of a South Yarra fashion boutique, she entered 20 Fashions on the Field competitions in the one year before winning at Derby Day, which led to being a judge the following year for Oaks Day style stakes. Her tip for entrants is: ‘You have to know what is on trend and in store.’
If you’re into fitness and nutrition, then helping jockeys perform can be a fascinating specialty. Brett Peatling is an industry leader. ‘I help jockeys use nutrition and training to lose weight for the races,’ he explains. Peatling has also trained as a masseuse to help jockeys keep limber. ‘I can help with injury rehab,’ he adds. ‘I watch how the jockeys ride and can tell you where they’re sore.’
It’s not just the jockeys who need to relax after a tough race – horse physios, chiropractors and masseuses all help relieve the horses’ muscles. Deryn Rowe got into horse massage after 30 years in the (human) fitness industry. ‘I was getting bored,’ she recalls. ‘I had a bit of an interest in racing so I did an equine sports massage course, which took about 12 months.’ Rowe loves seeing the difference a good massage can make. ‘They nudge you or stick their leg out showing you where they’re tight – it’s amazing how interactive they are,’ she says.
It’s no fluke that your Instagram gets flooded with images of spring racing events – there are people hired to make sure you see it all unfold. Emma Notarfrancesco, a previous Face Of Caulfield, spent the day sharing behind-the-scenes images. ‘I tag Melbourne Racing Club and the designers I’m wearing,’ says Notarfrancesco. If you’d like to turn your social media addiction into a career, Notarfrancesco, who has more than 12,000 followers, suggests being clear on your niche and letting your personality shine through.
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