Former jockey Briony Moore has been Racing SA’s Apprentice Academy Master for the past five years. We caught up with her to find out a little more about the role and what she loves about the industry.
Before becoming Racing SA’s Apprentice Academy Master you were a jockey for many years, how did you first get involved in the racing industry?
It’s fair to say I was one of these people who was born and bred into racing. My father was initially a small time horse trainer and farmer on Kangaroo Island and he then moved to Strathalbyn to become a full time trainer. My brother left home when I was five to become an apprentice jockey at Morphettville, and back before all of that my grandfather Leo Dunn was also a small time trainer.
So you have spent most of your life around racing – what do you love about it?
For me, personally, I love the enjoyment that racing gives to people.
I see it in so many forms each week. For example, a strapper strapping their favourite horse and win, lose or draw you so see the unconditional love they have for the horse.
I often have racehorse connections telling me about their horse/s with such pride, and I love seeing the emotional interviews which can come from trainers when you know the endless hours behind the scenes it has taken them to get to that point.
Likewise, it means so much when I see the elation on a jockey’s face after they have ridden a winner and you know the sacrifices they have made from a young age to forge a riding career. It’s extremely satisfying when you see that joy and success.
You’ve had the job of managing South Australia’s apprentices since 2017, what does your day-to-day look like?
We have developed our apprentice program to ensure our apprentices become professional athletes who can forge a successful career in the racing industry.
Each Tuesday we hold apprentice school which is when I deliver the more formal training components. I generally attend at least one race meeting a week and also hold a training session most Fridays.
In between all of that I am in very regular contact with all of the apprentices, assisting them with all sorts of things from finances through to keeping their bodies healthy with the assistance of doctors, dieticians, physiotherapists, psychologists and other experts.
Through the program we aim to help our apprentices reach their potential by not only developing their skills in racing but also broader life skills which will help them as a jockey and beyond.
It seems in recent years the Academy has gone from strength to strength, with an impressive batch of graduates and an ongoing relationship with the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Tell us about that.
We’re really proud of the reputation we have grown both locally and internationally as an ideal training ground for young jockeys.
Hong Kong is probably one of the strongest racing jurisdictions in the world, and we’ve developed a solid relationship with the Hong Kong Jockey Club in recent years which has seen them place a number of their apprentices in South Australia to learn and refine their riding. Jerry Chau is just one example of a young rider who spent time learning his craft through on South Australian racetracks before returning to Hong Kong where he has just recently completed his apprenticeship which is fantastic to see.
It’s also wonderful to see the success our current crop of apprentices such as Jacob Opperman and Ben Price are having, as well as the success so many of our recent graduates have had both locally and nationally.
What are the Academy’s priorities moving forward?
As part of our growth strategy for the industry we’re looking to increase our apprentice numbers by 25% across the next two years. We’re looking to continue to grow the presence of our Academy and its reputation both locally and beyond state borders.
What advice would you give to people starting out in the industry?
The racing industry can be quite daunting and overwhelming for people trying to enter the industry from scratch - the terminology, hours, form, all of the different jobs which can be involved. But I can say it does get easier. Like anything, you just have to be prepared to take the first steps and you will find plenty of support as you find your way. You are not expected to be an expert from the beginning, get in and start off small and you will be surprised where it can take you. Trust me the highs of racing far outweigh the lows; you just have to make a start!