NATASHIA IS THE FIRST AND ONLY FEMALE HORSE RACING JUDGE IN VICTORIA! WITH THE ENDORSEMENT FROM RV CEO - BERNARD SAUNDRY, NATASHIA RECEIVED A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY TO WATCH AND JUDGE ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS JUMP RACES IN THE WORLD, THE KING GEORGE VI CHASE AT KEMPTON PARK RACECOURSE WHICH WAS HELD IN LONDON ON THE 26TH OF DECEMBER!
STRIDEFREE AND PHS FOLLOWED NATASHIA'S ADVENTURE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA, AN AUSTRALIAN GIRL WHO HAPPENED TO JUDGE THE QUEENS HORSES IN ONE OF THE BIGGEST JUMP RACES IN THE WORLD!
WHAT SPARKED YOUR PASSION TO BECOME A JUDGE?
My love for horses and horse racing, combined with an 'on the edge of your seat'/ high stakes position. What more could you want!
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN BECOMING A JUDGE IN THE RACING INDUSTRY AND WHAT IS YOUR ROLE?
It involves learning the horses' conformation, saddlery, memorising all of the horses' names & the jockey silk colours. On top of that learning the racing rules, procedures and the ability to capture the placings of the horses as they cross the line in a split second. Generally you will act as an assistant judge position for 1-2 years, before stepping into a judging position.
The role of the judge is to officiate the placing and margins of the race. Deciding who comes what and any photo finish or dead heats.
WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR RECENT TRIP TO ENGLAND TO JUDGE ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS JUMPS RACES IN THE WORLD?
Being surrounded in the atmosphere that day was like no other. The English absolutely love their jump racing and can recite furlong by furlong a race that took place 10 years ago. I learnt so much about jump racing, English racing and general training methods used by trainers everyday.
THE MOST VALUABLE LESSONS LEARNED?
That the judge is the one who announces the placings, margins and correct weight, not the race caller!! I think that's the most stressful part, not judging the race. Also the races are ridden a lot slower then in Australia, due to heavier tracks and bigger jumps.
WHO WAS THE MOST INTERESTING PERSON YOU MET?
Chief Judge Major Felix Wheeler. Previously the Crown Equerry in the Royal Mews of the Royal Household and who also rides out track work 5 mornings a week, an armature jump jockey and has also ridden the Grand National course. Is there anything this man can't do. To be honest he is a wealth of knowledge of all things horse and jump racing related, and taught me a lot about the different styles of racing over here and the in's and out's of training.
WHAT WAS THE MOST INSPIRING ASPECT OF YOUR TRIP?
In addition to the Kind George VI Chase, I was lucky enough to meet up with Director of France Gallop Mr Matthieu Vincent, at Chantilly. In Chantilly alone they have over 42km of training tracks that is open to all trainers and the general public after track work. The business structure for France Gallop is to only benefit the racing industry. They have 1 tote/betting company that punters can bet through, so all profits go straight back into racing and community. This allows for more racing meetings, higher prize money which results in higher wages within the racing industry, all with the benefit of the racing industry in mind.
AS AN EQUESTRIAN RIDER WITH A LOVE FOR RACING, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CONCEPT OF STRIDEFREE AND WHAT IS IT THAT YOU LIKE ABOUT THESE SADDLES?
All horses in performance or racing are athletes. Just like human athletes they need the appropriate nutrition, training and treatments. They must have good team of professionals who help keep them health, fit and muscled. Saddlery is no exception and has to be comfortable and non restrictive. What I liked about the saddles when I learned about the concept is that the horses will be comfortable. With the new StrideFree tree the horse is not conflicted to direct pressure points, there is nothing 'digging into the horses' withers or shoulder.
HOW HAS THIS TRIP ASSISTED YOUR CAREER AND PROFESSIONAL OUTLOOK?
This exposure is all great experience that will assist with judging and also my knowledge of thoroughbreds and horse racing. Being my first year of judging jump racing, the King George VI Chase race meeting has given me additional insight of analyzing horses and their behavior during the race. I'm hoping this trip will allow me to judge more racing for Racing Victoria and the potential to judge other races around the world.
I do want to say a big thank you to Racing Victoria for making this all happen and to the BHA, Women in Racing UK and France Galop for taking me under their wing and giving me this wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank StrideFree for my warm and cosy jacket!