Claudia McDougall Yulong
Yulong, one of the fastest growing and biggest breeding operations in Australia, is based in Nagambie, Victoria. With a strong team behind them making them the powerhouse that they are, we dive into the career of one staff member in particular who is quickly making a well-established name for herself.
In the role of Nominations, Sales and Marketing, Claudia McDougall is a clear leader and role model who has proven herself as someone who we hope will play a big part in shaping the future of the Victorian breeding industry.
With a love for the horse from a young age and a self-described ‘horse girl’, McDougall was brought up, quite literally, with a stallion book in her hand.
“Back in the 80s, my mum rode in a few point-to-points and always loved racing, especially the jumps. Watching the races on a Saturday was our ritual,” McDougall said.
“Mum owned a 1986 stallion brochure, the proper leather-bound guides that they used to produce in the UK. Even at six and seven, I sat there, looking at it, piecing the basics of a pedigree together.
“I always had a pony when I was growing up and started working in yards when I was about 11. I went all the way through school as the horse-mad kid, making every possible assignment about horses and racing.”
McDougall attended Writtle College and completed an Advanced National Certificate in Horse Management which resulted in her becoming the top student that year. After this, McDougall attended Hartpury College and completed a Degree in Equine Sports Science while working on a breaking and pre-training yard during the course.
McDougall started seasonal work with Tweenhills Stud after finishing her degree, originally just helping the stud on an open day before the more regular work became available, clearly making a strong impression.
“I worked at Tweenhills for the season before heading back towards Newmarket, much closer to home,” McDougall said.
“I ended up working with Luca and Sara Cumani for a few years which was great as they were really good to me. I took on a lot more responsibility with them and I just learnt so much.
“After leaving there, I ended up working for Darley, working on the foaling farms. A job came up there in Nominations and they took a punt on an outside person rather than an office person, so they gave me a bit of break. This went on for about five years.”
Commencing her duties at Yulong around 18months ago, McDougall was asked what sparked her interest in moving to Australia, highlighting a growing industry and one that is much more marketable to both participants and fans.
“It’s a stronger industry down here,” McDougall said.
“It’s built on prestige in the UK, and you can’t do that forever. The prizemoney is so much stronger here. It is just a much healthier industry than where Europe is headed.
“Most people I had spoken to also said that I need to give Australia a go at some point. When the job came up, we sold everything, our entire life, and flew here with our two dogs.”
When asked about what the industry can do to attract more people and showcase the many different career paths that it offers, McDougall said that the industry is improving how it presents opportunities to participants.
“I feel that we are getting a lot better at showcasing the career paths in the industry,” McDougall said.
“I am definitely not someone that comes from a background that is steeped in racing or had a lot of money, but it was more about hard work and discovering for myself that this industry offers so many different opportunities.
“There are a lot more University courses available to people now and there are certainly a lot more visits from Universities and schools to the farm which is only going to help show more people what opportunities are available.”