An Adelaide teenager is making all the right moves – and drawing praise from one of Sydney’s most successful trainers – while tackling a comprehensive program aimed at preparing young people for a career in thoroughbred racing.
Stephanie Barrett-Quinn is currently working at the Randwick stables of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, as the middle leg of the three-component Explorer Cadetship Program.
The 12-month stable and stud horsemanship program kicked off with a TAFE-based “boot camp” at Hawkesbury, in NSW.
Stephanie has now moved on to a paid work-experience stint with the Waterhouse-Bott camp, and once complete she will head to a second paid gig, a stud-farm placement somewhere in NSW.
The program gives participants an immersive taste of all facets of the industry, enabling them to make informed choices about their career pathways. Stephanie is enjoying her working life in the stable, and says her days involve “doing yards and boxes, basic treatments of the horses, bandaging, saddling, stalls” and “just basically everything on the ground”.
The 19-year-old’s efforts have genuinely impressed Adrian Bott.
“(Stephanie) came here with an open mind – she has a great work ethic and is very willing to learn,” he said.
“She settled straight into the team very quickly, has taken on board the routines, and asks plenty of questions.
“She’s always looking for ways to improve her knowledge and what she can do better.”
Adrian says Stephanie’s efforts have already resulted in some extra responsibility.
“We have no hesitation in leaving her in charge of a stable of horses – she’s progressed very quickly,” he said.
“And certainly she’d be more than capable of managing a team of horses for us going forward.
“She’s certainly on the right path…”
Before heading to NSW earlier this year, Stephanie had a relatively solid grounding in the industry, spending almost four years with ex-SA trainer Mark Minervini, then five months with Chris Bieg.
Her current working day involves 3am starts, split shifts and plenty of hours spent walking horses.
“They get swum a lot and they do a lot of walking, which is good for them,” she said.
“They (Waterhouse-Bott runners) are known for being fit, especially the stayers – they like them on the walker for a long time, just to keep them going.
“And a lot of them get swum, like, five laps a day in the pool.”
Stephanie harbours ambitions of being a track rider, so was thrilled to recently be elevated to working with the stable’s ponies.
“They get us started on the ponies and we kind of work our way up from there,” she said.
“Some of us will get sent to TAFE to do the track work course, just to make sure we’re all fine and everything. So the pony is a big step.”
Stephanie was also thrilled to meet turf legend Gai Waterhouse recently.
“She likes things done properly and her way,” Stephanie said, “but yeah, she’s lovely.”
Stephanie says she has been attending race meetings regularly and has been strapping horses for race meetings. Her first winner was in late June, when Redoute’s Choice filly Triskana won at Kembla Grange.
She has enjoyed living on track at Randwick with other cadets and is embracing everything the program has to offer.
“It’s all been challenging, but I’ve been enjoying it a lot,” she said.
“Yes it’s long hours, yes it’s sometimes stressful, but you just get on with it, because it’s so rewarding.
“The responsibility you get given is really good. They all give you a chance, and they all listen. It’s a real learning environment.
“I just want to give everything a shot, including track work. I’ve also thought about training in the future.”
Adrian described the program as “fantastic”.
“We’ve always been searching for young, bright, dedicated people who want to get an opportunity within the industry and the course provides that for them,” he said.
“And then it gives those people the necessary foundation to come into the right career paths where they can progress forward from there.”
Stephanie, who hails from Somerton Park, said while she is missing her family, she is keen to remain in the industry, and that her future could be either in South Australia or interstate.