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News > CAFRE graduate scoops prize at awards night


CAFRE graduate scoops prize at awards night

November 20, 2019

CAFRE graduate Cheryl McClean has won the Newcomer Award at the prestigious Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards Ceremony. These awards are designed to recognise and reward the hard work of stud and stable staff around the country. Stud and stable staff make a huge contribution to the Irish racing industry and their dedication does not go unnoticed. The Newcomer Award is given to an individual who has been working in the Thoroughbred industry for less than five years and who has shown commitment, ambition and a desire to improve and progress their skills and knowledge.

Cheryl, who is an exercise rider and groom at Rathbride Stables with trainer Willie McCreery, began her equine education at Enniskillen Campus in 2014 on the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management. She decided to stay in education and graduated in 2016 having completed the Foundation Degree in Equine Management.

CAFRE graduate Cheryl McClean honoured at the 2019 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards

When I spoke with Cheryl following her win she was understandably over the moon. “It was at CAFRE that my love of racing began.” CAFRE has a point-to-point yard on site and students here have a unique opportunity to ride out alongside their academic studies. “I completed my work placement at pre-training yard Rangers Lodge with Richard Brabazon. It was there I realised that working with racehorses is what I wanted to do. Richard encouraged me to get experience with another trainer as he mainly pre-trains yearlings. In May 2016 I joined the team at Willie’s and have been there ever since.”

However life in a racing yard does not always include awards ceremonies. The day to day tasks are varied and require a unique set of skills. When asked about her job role Cheryl commented “Every day is different, every season is different. Yes, I ride out the racehorses, but there are many other aspects to my job. I could be going to the races to present and lead up, assisting with vets, farriers, physiotherapists, stepping in for the head lad if he is unavailable, dealing with owners, showing horses and so much more.  Since I’ve won my award, I’ve had numerous press interviews and I also featured on a podcast called Off The Ball. It is a very exciting time.”