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, who make a huge contribution to the Irish racing industry.
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 graduated in 2016 with a Foundation Degree in Equine Management.
Cheryl said she was over the moon with her win: “It was at CAFRE that my love of racing began. It has a point-to-point yard on site, so we have a unique opportunity to ride out alongside our studies.
“I completed work placement at pre-training yard Rangers Lodge with Richard Brabazon and realised that working with racehorses is what I wanted to do. Richard encouraged me to get experience with another trainer, so I joined Willie’s team and have been there ever since.”
The 24-year-old from Newtownards pointed out that 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. Every day is different, every season is different. Yes, I ride out the racehorses, but I could be going to the races to present and lead up, assisting with vets, farriers, physiotherapists.
“I might need to step 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 has been a very exciting time,” she added.