PLENTY of racing newcomers will dip their toe into next week’s series of Race Behind The Scenes webinars but what happens next? How do we convert these enthusiasts into syndicate members or industry employees?

Caroline Townend, ownership executive with Horse Racing Ireland, says there are several options. “They can get in touch with us directly, we are here to help and answer questions. Or they can contact the trainers directly – all their contact details are on our website. Trainers are generally very accommodating.”

That is the big difference between racing and almost every other professional sport, Caroline says. “You can ring anybody, you can get right up close to the stars. You can’t do that in any other sport. And when you visit a trainer’s yard you get to see the whole team at work.”

Caroline says the Tracey Collins video on the video is a particularly good example of a trainer’s open door policy. Producing videos for 24 trainers while working from home has been challenging for Caroline and her colleagues but the results speak for themselves. “The trainers love them and some people have said they look like Fáilte Ireland adverts,” she reports. “Those overseas love that all the yards are so different in Ireland and I know some trainers have had enquiries directly as a result of the videos.”

As well as assisting existing and new owners with all kinds of queries, Caroline also helps trainers set up racing clubs. Now her skillset has grown to organising a series of webinars next week. Has that been difficult?

“Well, Zoom has been a learning curve,” she says with a laugh. “The webinars are coming around fast now and the most important part was lining up key speakers with whom people could relate.”

Be they owners, trainers or jockeys, the participants have varying levels of experience, from those starting out in the game to those who have achieved success at the top levels.

“I am particularly looking forward to the talk with Derval O’Rourke and Joseph O’Brien,” Caroline says. “Derval had to train herself for the big days and Joseph has to do the same for his horses, and of course he was a professional jockey himself with height and weight issues. It should be fascinating.”

Other departments in HRI, such as the marketing team and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, have been very supportive of Race Behind The Scenes.

“They have a bigger reach than we have in the Ownership department, so it’s great that they can give the webinars a really good drive. There is so much more to racehorse ownership than a day at the races. It brings you on a journey.”