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Seventeen new Fast Track trainees began their journey into the world of thoroughbred breeding on Monday with the aim of building successful careers in the racing industry.

Launched last year by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) in collaboration with TAFE NSW in response to staffing shortages in the breeding sector, the Fast Track training program offers passionate horse people a formal pathway into the industry.

Over the next 12-months, trainees will study for a certificate III in horse breeding at TAFE NSW Scone while completing full-time traineeships with some of the country’s most respected stud farms.

More than 250 applications were received from around the country, leading to an increase in the number of places offered on the program.

“The response to this year’s intake has been outstanding, with double the number of applications from last year,” said TBA chief executive, Tom Reilly.

“It demonstrates to us that there are plenty of people out there who would love to build a career working with horses and who are just looking for a start.

“Fast Track offers exactly that; 12 months practical experience working on a reputable farm combined with a formal qualification. It is the perfect entry-level pathway.”

Widden Stud principal Anthony Thompson, said the program plays an important role in addressing a major issue for breeders.

“Staffing has been identified as an area of concern for breeders and there is a real need for an initiative like this. We took a trainee on last year and were determined to support the program again in 2019.

“The course content does a great job providing the trainees with the foundational skills and knowledge needed to get started. They really seem to hit the ground running when they get to the farms.”

The 2019 group is made up of students from New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.

Among the intake is a qualified accountant, a beauty therapist and a dive master. The majority of the group have had little to no exposure to thoroughbreds.

The first crop of Fast Track trainees are nearing the end of their 12-months in the program and have made positive impressions on the farms where they are undertaking their practical work placements.

Trainee Alyssa Pickels is based at Kitchwin Hills and like many others in the first group, will stay in the industry after graduation.

“The Fast Track program has introduced me to the wide range of opportunities in the thoroughbred industry. The many experiences provided through the program have shown me that I can have more than just a job, I can make it a career,” said Pickels.

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