Getting to know the unsung heroes behind the scenes!
Barrier attendants are one of the biggest unsung heroes in the racing industry, facing potentially dangerous situations every time they’re at work, their horsemanship and ability to work as a team allows them to do everything they can to keep all those involved safe. This is why this week we’re getting to know Ryan Englebrecht, barrier attendant at the Australian Turf Club.
Ryan has always been involved in the racing industry with several of his family members being trainers. He grew up in Muswellbrook where his grandfather trained horses like Idol and Romantic Dream who competed at the highest level.
Hey Ryan! Who do you work for and what is your role?
Hey! I work as a foreman at Gabrielle Englebrecht Racing and I’m also a barrier attendant at the ATC.
How many years have you worked in the industry?
My whole life! My family are involved in racing so I was born into it.
Have you got any career highlights?
Referral winning the George Ryder for my dad (Steve Englebrecht), it was his first group one win so meant so much to our family. Also Malavio winning the civic stakes, we had been struggling for a while so the win was a huge relief! He was three lengths last the whole way then at the last minute he swooped down the outside, winning by two lengths!
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
The best thing about working for Gabby is trying to help her achieve her goals. My favourite thing about working for the ATC is getting up close to some of the best horses in Australia! I also love being apart of the Sydney Carnival, it’s a great experience!
What do you think needs to be changed within the industry?
I think the industry needs to improve on dealing with mental health issues amongst staff. One possible way of decreasing fatigue and stress would be to give staff a proper work to home relationship. The increase in race meetings on Sunday’s often leaves staff months before they get a proper day off. This leaves them exhausted and asking for time off is often looked at as being weak which over time can result in depression.
Who is your favourite jockey and why?
Tommy Berry because of his ability to rise on the big occasions.
If you were a jockey and could ride any horse past or present who would it be and why?
I would have loved to have ridden Sunline. She was one of the toughest horses in history and had the ability to keep finding no matter what. She had such a high cruising speed and could still run a quick last 600!
Best horse you’ve ever worked with?
Referral. He was such a gentlemen and a pleasure to be involved with.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
My future goals are to help my sister (Gabby) be a successful trainer.
Last but not least, if you weren’t working in the thoroughbred industry what would you be doing?
Before I was serious about the racing industry I was a semi- professional musician so I probably would’ve kept doing that.
A massive thank you to Ryan for lending us his time to answer all our questions. We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about a true unsung hero that has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for so many years and does such a good job on the barriers keeping all those involved safe.
Thanks again Ryan, we wish you all the best in the future!
Words by Kiersten Duke