Twenty-six young people graduated from the KWETB Trainee Jockey programme at the Racing Academy & Centre of Education (RACE) on Friday, July 1st and most are now proceeding to take up employment in the industry.

Fourteen girls were among the group who successfully completed the 10-month residential programme and were presented with their certificates by special guests at an uplifting ceremony on the Kildare campus.

This year’s graduates worked towards a QQI Level 4 award in Horsemanship (Racehorse Care & Riding) and completed work placements in a wide range of training yards in Kildare, and they were regularly visible on the Curragh training grounds during their programme.

They had a comprehensive industry induction which included behind the scenes experiences at racecourses, industry bodies and stewards room.

They met leading jockeys and trainers and all rode out at Willie Mullins’ yard and this year’s group broke new ground with five participants securing their riding licences before completion of the programme.

The main prize of ‘Trainee Jockey of the Year’ was awarded to Shane Markey from Carrickmacross in Monaghan, with Meath man Dylan Kidd the runner-up.

Shane, who completed his work placement with Ross O’Sullivan, is now apprenticed to Anthony McCann and had his first ride at Naas on the following day.

Dylan signed apprentice forms with Jessica Harrington and will shortly be seen on the track. Others to receive riding licences included Oisin Enright (Dermot Weld), Michael Sharpe (Barry Connell) and Evan Nugent (Padraig O’Connor).


Michael Sharpe from Kildare and Innis Marquez from Spain shared the ‘Most Improved Rider’ awards, while Beau Kelly from Tramore in Waterford won the ‘Derek O’Sullivan Award’ for overall contribution to the course.

Alyse Clarke from Meath won the Sportsperson of the Year award while Emily O’Neill from Kilkenny achieved the Best Academic Performance with distinctions in all eight modules.

A Special Merit award sponsored by Irish Injured Jockeys went to Innis Marquez who displayed great resilience over the past year in successfully applying from Menorca and dealing with multiple personal and logistical challenges over the course of the programme. He is now employed with Ross O’Sullivan where he completed his work placement.


Other trainees commended on the day included Eimear O’Regan from Cork for best classroom effort and Rebecca Parsons from Waterford for her module grades along with Cherise Clyne from Longford who also delivered a polished address as class representative at the awards ceremony.

Special guests who assisted with the prize giving were three graduates from former years who have all had notable achievements in the sport and were delighted to share their insights with this fledgling group.

Jamie Powell (2019) spoke of his recent breakthrough successes and the persistent effort required to make opportunities and capitalise on them.

Siobhan Rutledge (2015) offered encouragement and support to the female trainees as they set out to emulate her progression as a leading apprentice, while Sean Flanagan (2005) highlighted the importance of resilience and dealing with adversity in a positive manner.


Gratitude was expressed to TRI Equestrian for their generous sponsorship of prizes and to PC Racewear for their support and gifts to trainees.

Sixteen of the group will be remaining in residence at RACE for another year as they progress their careers and further their learning, while trials will shortly commence for the next intake of trainees to this prestigious entry-level programme.