Racing Groom Ambassadors
Mark Johnston Racing
What was your background and what training did you have to get into racing?
I followed the rest of my family into the Army when I was 16 years old. But after a few months, having been in the German Pony Club, I knew my passion was for horses and that I would need to do many years’ service in the Army before being allowed to join a horse regiment.
I went to the local careers office in Glasgow and they suggested the British Racing School. So I jumped on a coach from Glasgow to Newmarket, and never looked back!
How did you find your first job in racing?
After passing my NVQ Level 1, the British Racing School placed me at Jonjo O’Neil’s yard. I stayed there for a few months then moved to Mark Johnston Racing, where I have been for 19 years.
What do you do in your job?
I break in the yearlings – swimming them and then riding them as older horses. I’m also involved in general horse husbandry duties and caring for their welfare. I’m also very lucky and get to go racing all over the world when I’m required to do so.
What do you like best about your job?
My favourite part of the job is seeing both young horses and staff progress and travelling to race meetings.
Have you used any of the industry support?
Following injuries, I have received support from Racing Welfare and RIABS.
Have you done any other career development training whilst in your role?
Our yard has a skills matrix and development scheme. Staff are encouraged to learn new skills and become competent to teach other younger or newer staff.
I hope to continue what I am doing and support the young staff coming through the ranks.
What awards have you won or been nominated for?
I have been nominated for the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards three times, twice making the final 10 and finally winning the Rider/Groom Award and Employee of the Year in 2022.
What tips would you give a person wanting to start a role as a racing groom?
Be prepared to work hard and listen to more experienced staff in order to progress. If you work hard and make it your life, it is a fantastic job and very rewarding – even when the horses don’t run so well.
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