While there are dedicated equine courses aimed at horse interested people, Silverdale Farm owner/operator Steve Grant, in conjunction with TAFE NSW, has initiated a unique industry program targeting "horsey" school leavers.
The Silverdale Academy Internship Program was established in 2021.
There are plans to expand its education programs for school students (years 11 and 12 with a one-week placement), conduct school bus tours, an intern program for 16 to 25-year-olds, as well as leadership and traineeship programs, and a new horticulture program via Moss Vale TAFE.
Expressions of interest (by mid-August) are now being sought for the next intake.
"I haven't seen a lot of people starting at the grassroots level at schools, educating its leavers on what's out there in Thoroughbred racing and breeding," academy director Mr Grant said.
"Studs are always looking for more staff for varying jobs and at different times."
The Silverdale Academy Intern Program encompasses six weeks of fully-subsidised training. Five weeks are spent learning in the classroom, followed by a week of work experience at Silverdale Farm at Avoca on the Southern Highlands.
Participants sample all aspects of the business, from agistment and spelling horses to yearling preparation, foaling, health and equine behaviour.
The first of its kind in the region, Steve has been instrumental in establishing the program, teaming with Linda Molloy, one of TAFE NSW's equine teachers based at the Moss Vale campus.
With its third intake of students due to sign-up next month, the program falls under TAFE NSW's agribusiness umbrella that covers animal care, equine, horticulture and land conservation. While based in the Southern Highlands, applications are accepted from outside the region.
"The course is a great opportunity for horse interested people, the tuition to lead to employment, and which could develop into a life-long career in any sector of the horse industry," Mr Grant said.
The intern program offers industry bus trips to horse-related businesses and gives interns a chance to meet and talk to industry professionals, for example, trainers Chris Waller, Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, and Sydney bloodstock agent Andrew Williams.
Silverdale Farm - established in 2017 by Steve Grant and his wife Eliza - has had a momentous year with the emergence of Sydney star galloper Fireburn - winner of the prestigious ATC Golden Slipper Stakes-G1 and Sires Produce Stakes-G1 and a second in the Champagne Stakes-G1.
Fireburn was born on Silverdale Farm, where she spent her formative early months of life until she was weaned. The juvenile - likely to be named champion Australian two-year-old this season - also carries the Grant Bloodstock brand, Steve being one of the three breeders of the horse.
Steve also has close ties with Fireburn's sire Rebel Dane - the breeder also racing the stallion with a partnership which includes Louis Mikalyka's Sydney-based Laurel Oak Bloodstock.
By Danehill's son California Dane, Rebel Dane - a dual Group 1 winner himself - has now found stud fame and continues his career at Widden Stud in the new season.
In Tasmanian news, Kia Ora Stud, Scone, bred stallion Zululand, which stands at Grenville Stud at Whitemore, and was represented with his first winner when Lieutenant Lewis won at Devonport in early July.
Lieutenant Lewis was bred and is trained by Tasmanian Racing Hall Of Famer Barry Campbell at Spreyton, the gelding having his first track appearance. The gelding also carries all Tasmanian breeding being produced from the West Quest Tassie winning mare Vivacious.
Among the vast number of sire sons by champion Australian sire Fastnet Rock, Zululand was a brilliant juvenile when winning the VRC Sires Produce Stakes-G2, followed by a second in the ATC Champagne Stakes-G1. Interestingly, he continued his racing career at Kranji in Singapore, where he finished second in the Singapore Cup-LR for total earnings of $870,000.
The annual Sires Of The Season will appear in next week's issue, with Australian and international bred stallions featured.
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