Kylie Johnson Living Her Dream
Living Her Dream
Kylie Johnson is one of the people that as a little girl had a dream and her passion and enthusiasm allowed her to hold onto that childhood dream and since February 2018 she has been living out her dream of working in the Racing Industry, one that has captivated her since a young age.
As young children we are always asked what we want to do when we are older, the common responses out of vivid imaginations usually include: Fire Fighter, Police Officer, Doctor, Vet and many more. As we progress through adolescents and into adulthood, for most of us the dream occupation changes and we take a different path in life. While others hold onto those childhood dreams and pursue them, eventually achieving them (even if it takes longer than planned). We sat down with Kylie and find out more about her journey and passion for the industry, including the job that she has labelled her “dream job”.
How and when did you get into racing?
I was always the typical little girl- wanted a pony and wanted to do pony club. Unfortunately, coming from a family where money was extremely tight they were just dreams I had and I envied all those that had the ponies and were doing pony clubs on Saturdays. I was also the kid that would borrow every horse book from the library to educate myself about all the various breeds, so firstly the love of horses was always in my blood, not born into it from family traditions. Originally from Melbourne, one year in the late 80s my primary school had organised a school excursion to Caulfield Race Track and the Melbourne Museum as it was an anniversary of the mighty Phar Lap’s 1930 Melbourne Cup Win. My mum was not really a horse person and I didn’t think she would let me go on the trip so I forged her signature so that I could go. It was on this trip that I got to learn more about racing and I was first exposed to The Thoroughbred, I was just really taken by their beauty and regalness. On the tour we had a talk from a jockey and trainer, it was that moment that I decided that was what I wanted to do- I wanted to be a jockey! After that day everything was about racing: Watching it on the TV, stealing the form guide out of the paper to learn the names and how to read form, even to the point of riding my push bike like I was in a race- I was one obsessed little kid!
Did you have the support of your family?
Not really, as mum wasn’t really a horsey person. I also began to stop eating all my food because I wanted to stay thin so I could be light enough- they were also entertaining discussions because I would end
up grounded for not eating all my dinner or I would miss out on dessert (not that it worried me then). When it came the time to think about university in High School, I didn’t want to go to uni as there were no qualifications for racing. I had expressed interest in studying Breeding Management, Horse Handling and a variety of other horse related courses. Unfortunately, because when I finished school I was still considered a minor I need a parental signature on the form- I had learnt my lesson the first time I forged a signature, so I essentially put the dream on hold and went down a different path.
How did you first get your start in Racing?
The racing industry has always been one that has been in my heart and where I have really wanted to be, at most of my previous jobs I have been the one that others turn to for their cup tips or to even organise the annual Melbourne Cup events. Back in 2010, I was working two jobs and the companies were merged together so as a result I was given a substantial pay rise in accordance with the workload that I had. Now I could have been stupid with the extra money but instead it gave me the opportunity to do the one thing that I have always wanted to do – own a race horse! So I did some research and eventually invested into my first race horse, a very flashy looking Stratum filly that would eventually be Hawaiian Rose and trained in Gosford on the central coast of NSW. Enjoying the ownership journey, I couldn’t stop at one so eventually I had twohorses are like pringles, you can never have just one! The ownership experience allowed me to continue to grow my knowledge. I wanted to be more involved and knew that it is tough to crack into, instead I answered a call out on Facebook for the NSW Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust (TRT) who were looking for volunteers to look after the horses going through the program. So I went along and loved the open day, from then I continued on with volunteering. Monday to Friday I lived my Corporate World life and then every Saturday (rain, hail or shine unless my own horses were racing) I would go to Canterbury and attend to the horses, eventually being trusted enough by Scott Brodie and his team to be more hands on with the training of the horses- this was my heaven!
Overtime your ideal role in racing changed, tell us more about that
Yeah as a kid for sure I wanted to be a jockey but sadly weight got the better of me and I became too heavy, besides also knowing what jockeys had to do to keep their weight down deterred me from that. I looked at other roles around and from being part of a Syndicated horse, I found that I really enjoyed chatting to people about their horse and keeping people updated, also having a background in Training & Development I have a natural knack for being able to understand people and communicate well with others, from this I decided that my ideal role would be a Racing & Communications Manager. So I went on this path of looking into what was required and looking for roles around, at that point not many going so again I refocused to other positions. As a young kid and as I got older as well as being involved with the TRT horses, I began to take a liking to wanting to be a strapper, looking after horses all day, what could be better. Unfortunately, things in my corporate world for a period didn’t go too well, I had been made redundant from a role and was quite devastated. So I decided to make a change and gave up on the corporate world, I replied to an advert for a Horse Handler at John Thompson Racing and was invited in for a trial. Sadly the morning was a tough gig and as my body was hurting, I had come to realise that the work the stable hands goes so unrecognized by many people and I had developed a much deeper appreciation for them. As it wasn’t for me, I returned back to the corporate world and had found my dream corporate world job, little did I know that 12 months in and I would once again be faced with redundancy. This time around it really had a negative impact on me and mentally I needed something to save me from making a drastic decision, I saw a callout again on Facebook for Stable Hands at Leilani Lodge under the guidance of James Cummings. I was determined to give it another go, so again went in for a trial and did well and was given a chance to look after some quality horses in a good stable where I would learn much more. I was living my dream of being around horses for two weeks, before I had to return to the corporate world as financially I needed more money to be able to live suitably. From here I decided that my dream job in the racing industry is definitely a Racing/communications Manager, these were the roles I would now be looking for.
Recently, you made a life changing decision to change your world, tell us more.
I sure did and it feels like a life time ago but one that I have no regrets over! I obtained a role at a large electronics company in May of last year. To start with I was enjoying the work and building good solid working relationships with people. However, as time went on and I settled in I was constantly sick (the flu or gastro was a common workplace bug), felt like I was under so much stress and I began to become unhappy (feeling like I was losing sight of who I was as a person). Toward the end, all of this took its toll on me and I became ill and needed to make some changes to my life to ensure my own health, both physically and mentally. One night on good old Facebook, I noticed a call out for a Racing Secretary that was required for a Sydney Trainer, so I responded and next thing I knew a job interview had been organised. I attended the interview and I guess as the saying goes “the rest is history”. Being successful in getting the role, I walked away from the stability of the corporate world that I have known for so long to finally achieve my dream of working fully in racing. I was over the moon to share the news with everyone, for I had finally achieved my dream.
What is your title and who do you work for?
I am now a Racing Secretary at John Sargent Racing.
Tell us about a typical day in your job, what do you do?
I no longer do the 9am to 5pm, my days start much earlier and I am in the stables at 7am every morning. There are jobs that I have to do on a daily basis including: - Printing emails that John needs to read over - Lodging the Nominations & Acceptances with Racing Australia - Booking Jockeys for the rides - Booking transport for races/trials or organising transport for any horses that need to be picked up from agistment properties - Banking and Paying bills - Updating the website and keeping an eye on the Social Media Channels - Updating our boards with where all the horses are - Entering the daily procedures into Ardex I also do the monthly accounts, answering the phone, greeting any visitors to the stables – essentially my job is to support John in any capacity that he requires when it comes to the administration of his business.
It sounds like an interesting job, is there anything that you don’t like about it?
It is interesting but fun because although I do some of the same tasks everyday it isn’t always the same. When I first started I would make a lot of mistakes (to be expected) but I was so hard on myself and didn’t like letting John down. If I had to pick one of the things I don’t like it is the Debt Collecting (chasing up non-paying owners), however, I seem to be getting good results so that is a positive!
What is it like to work for John Sargent?
There are good and bad days just like any job, but I am absolutely loving it! In a short time I have learnt so much and I continue to learn more every day. Some people say that he is intimidating but he is pretty good to work for.
Now we hear that you keep yourself pretty busy, tell us what else you do?
I like to keep myself very busy, so when not working with Sarge (usually in the evenings) I do some racing journalism- I am the Racing Editor for Patriots Riders Management (write all their blogs for the website). When not doing that I also write for G1X Racing (general interest articles), I have my own horse racing blog which is sharing my life inside the racing industry (www.horseracinglife.blog). Then every fortnight on Friday nights, I do all the on course announcements at the Bankstown Paceway – so yes life is 100% horse racing and I am loving life so much more now!
Tell us your horse’s names and who trains them?
Well unfortunately Hawaiian Rose is long retired as is my other mare I had a share in, Belle Voleur. I currently have a 5% share in an All Too Hard filly named Fidelius Charm trained by the powerful combo in Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott, hopefully she will get to the races soon and we get to see what she is made of. The horse I have had for quite a while now is Ravitude (Pendragon x Ravissant), he has had a change of trainer and is now with Nick Mitchell Racing located at Gosford. He has been a troublesome horse but the team are working him out and hopefully another win is not too far away, it has been a long time between drinks for this boy but I still love him to bits.
So would you say you are living your dream life?
I absolutely am! It has taken me a long time to get to where I am and now that I have achieved my dreams there is no looking back. I am proud of my accomplishments that I have obtained in life but waking up every day knowing that I never lost sight or gave up on my dream makes me the most happiest. I have had some real low moments in life and it has always been racing and horses that have kept me focused. Just goes to show that if you can dream it, really want it bad enough then you can and will achieve it.