The rac­ing sec­re­tary: Emer Fal­lon

Friday - - In The Uae -

Emer’s job re­quires her to wear many hats, in­clud­ing a pretty one for the big race day. From li­ais­ing with the bases in other parts of the world, train­ers, staff and the yard to book­ing jock­eys, deal­ing with in­dus­try gov­ern­ing bod­ies to the lo­gis­tics of mov­ing horses, to hos­pi­tal­ity and events, the Ir­ish horse lover has jug­gled many tasks in her seven years at the sta­ble.

Have you al­ways worked with horses? I grew up in Ire­land and started rid­ing when I was five. My fa­ther and grand­fa­ther have al­ways been pas­sion­ate about horses so I feel it is some­thing that I’ve in­her­ited. I al­ways wanted to work with horses, whether it was the ad­min­is­tra­tive as­pect of it or any­thing that was more hands-on, I al­ways knew horses were go­ing to be my ca­reer. I’m glad I have the hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence as it gave me the edge when I de­cided to move to an of­fice-based role as I can un­der­stand the na­ture of the busi­ness and its chal­lenges. I have a BSc in Equine Sci­ence from the Univer­sity of Lim­er­ick in Ire­land.

Do you think you are liv­ing your dream life? As a young girl and a rac­ing ad­dict, I re­mem­ber watch­ing Saeed and Shaikh Mo­ham­mad on the tele­vi­sion be­ing in­ter­viewed at big race meet­ings such as Royal As­cot. Now, I can­not be­lieve that I am work­ing for the same or­gan­i­sa­tion, so in a way, yes, I think I am liv­ing my dream life. And the fact I have been able to make a ca­reer out of my pas­sion makes me very happy. The glam­our as­pect is ac­tu­ally a very small part of the job.

Are there any other dreams you’d like to ful­fil? One thing I know for sure is that horses will al­ways re­main my pas­sion, if not my ca­reer. It is such a fast-paced en­vi­ron­ment so the adren­a­line and the ex­cite­ment that comes with it is quite ad­dic­tive. And the fact that the team we have is so skilled and en­thu­si­as­tic about what they do makes the job even more sat­is­fy­ing. So I know I would miss it if I de­cided to change ca­reer path.

Does it bother you that the jockey and the trainer get all the spot­light after a win? While it is true that jock­eys are the ones who, along with the trainer and the owner, take the podium and are more recog­nis­able by the fans and the me­dia, one also needs to have a lot of re­spect for what a jockey does.

They are highly skilled ath­letes who take a risk ev­ery time they go out to ride in a race, not to men­tion all the re­spon­si­bil­ity that is placed on them after we have done all the hard work at home. So no, I have to say that doesn’t bother me at all, I only have ad­mi­ra­tion for them.

What do you think of the work pres­sure, does it change gears when the rac­ing sea­son starts? The rac­ing sea­son in the UAE is quite short – from Oc­to­ber to March. Be­cause of the sum­mer tem­per­a­tures it is not pos­si­ble to train horses here all year round. But it still re­quires a lot of plan­ning and there are only a few months of the year when it is rel­a­tively quiet work-wise. We seem to be only wrap­ping up from one sea­son be­fore we are wind­ing up for the next one!

Are there few women in the field? It is a per­cep­tion in horserac­ing, mainly be­cause we see a lot of male jock­eys and train­ers at the fore­front but it’s far more bal­anced be­hind the scenes – across all the roles. Also, there are lots of dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines in equine sports – flat rac­ing is only one of them. For in­stance in the UAE, Princess Haya Bint Al Hus­sain, wife of Shaikh Mo­ham­mad and Chair­man of the Board at the Dubai In­ter­na­tional Hu­man­i­tar­ian City, has a clear pas­sion for equine sports and was a very suc­cess­ful showjumper her­self. She is an ac­tive speaker at global con­fer­ences since she was a two-term pres­i­dent of In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion for Eques­trian Sports (FEI). She is an in­spi­ra­tion to other women who are be­gin­ning to look at an eques­trian ca­reer op­tion.

It’s a mis­con­cep­tion that there are few women in the sport – Emer notes Princess Haya’s role in in­spir­ing oth­ers to join the field

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