NZ Thoroughbred Racing industry courses and apprenticeships

Want a career in the renowned and vibrant horse racing industry? 

The NZ racing industry contributes a whopping 1.6 billion dollars to the NZ economy making it the largest equine industry in NZ, with the Thoroughbred sector responsible for employing 9,600 of these people. If you love horses, we have a wide range of jobs on offer within our industry, ensuring there is a place for everyone. 

We believe in training and educating our participants so they are recognised for the very important skill sets that they bring to our sport. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing offers industry participants free* NZQA courses ranging from the introduction to equine skills (Level 2) to a Jockey apprenticeship (Level 4)  

We have worked with the Primary ITO to develop a range of programmes that are best suited to our industry’s needs. They provide people with the hands-on knowledge that is needed to enhance their career pathways. People who hold a qualification through us can utilise it for domestic and international licensing purposes as well as enhancing their CV and climbing the career ladder. 


*Please note to undertake the course free of fees you must be working in the industry and not currently undertaking any other study or attending school. If you are still at school, please let us know as we also offer some equine units through the gateway programme.

Courses Available

Level 2

NZ Certificate - Introduction into equine skills 

Duration: 8 months 
Cost: Free

This course is free to complete for all Thoroughbred racing industry participants who are currently employed with a licensed trainer and is designed to upskill people who are just starting off in the industry or who want to further their knowledge base. It is a mandatory requirement for new entrants into the industry to gain a stable hand license.

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Level 3

Trackwork Riding Skills and Safety 

Duration: 4 months 
Cost: $195 (Covers the cost of Slow Trackwork Licence) 

To be able to ride any registered Thoroughbred racehorse you must have obtained your Slow Trackwork Licence. This course is a mandatory element of the slow work licensing process and once completed, you are able to ride registered Thoroughbreds at up to half pace.

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Level 3

Trackwork Rider Course

Duration: 9 months 
Cost: Free 

This course builds on the Level 3 Trackwork Riding Skills and Safety course. You can enrol into this qualification upon completion of the Trackwork Riding Skills and Safety course or enrol directly into this course if you already have a trackwork license. This course also forms a compulsory aspect of the career pathway to gain an Assistant Trainer license or a Class B license. 

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Level 3

Thoroughbred Strapper Course

Duration: 9 months 
Cost: Free

The Level 3 Thoroughbred Strapper Course has a duration of 9 months and is designed for people who are working with Thoroughbred racehorses. It is free for all industry participants who are citizens or residents.

This course is internationally recognised by other racing jurisdictions as a criterion to hold a stable hand license and is designed to cover the important skill sets that are needed when working with Thoroughbred racehorses. It also forms a compulsory aspect of the career pathway to hold a trainer license with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing  

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Level 4

New Zealand Jockey Apprenticeship  

Duration: 26 months 
Cost: Free for NZ citizens and residents, a licensing fee may apply for international applicants 

A Jockey Apprenticeship in NZ is 4 years long and encompasses two different licenses. One is a Class C Probationary Licence to ride at trials. The other is a Class B Apprentice Licence which allows you to ride on an official race day licence and gain experience to be granted a Class A Senior Jockey licence.  

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Interested in a career in racing or want to find out more, contact our racing industry training team.