2024 Les Young Scholarship now open unveiling golden opportunities for aspiring thoroughbred industry leaders


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If you’re looking to develop your skills in the thoroughbred industry, then the unique experience offered through the Les Young Scholarship might be for you. Applications for the 2024 Scholarship are now open.



At just 25 years old and already armed with seven years in the thoroughbred industry, Ella Askevold-McDonald’s career has recently taken an exciting turn after being named the 2023 Les Young Scholarship recipient, an award supported by the AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.

Named in honour of Les Young, a legendary figure in the thoroughbred industry, the award pays tribute to his multifaceted contributions as a respected bloodstock agent, journalist, and long-serving committee member of Thoroughbred Breeders NSW. As a foundation member and vice president of the NSW Racehorse Owners Association, Les dedicated his life to the thoroughbred.

The scholarship, designed to cultivate the skills and knowledge of the next generation in the thoroughbred industry, offers a unique opportunity for young individuals to enhance their expertise through an international course at the United Kingdom National Stud.

Since entering the equine industry after finishing school in 2016, Ella has worked in multiple racing stables where she’s developed an interest in the thoroughbred breeding side of the industry. The Les Young scholarship strongly appealed to her, as she was excited at the prospect of travelling overseas to learn more about the Northern Hemisphere’s thoroughbred breeding.

Recently arriving in the United Kingdom, Ella has commenced her placement at The National Stud, an internationally renowned thoroughbred breeding and training facility. She is currently undertaking their 13-week Level 3 Bloodstock Management Course.

“The timing of the UK breeding season directly opposes the Australian season,” explained Ella. “The UK has foals being born from January until June whilst Australia is from August to  November.”

“The scholarship meant I could continue learning about foals and the foaling process during the quieter time in Australia and it’s always valuable to understand how different farms operate across the globe .”

Education Manager at The UK National Stud, Abbie Taylor, explained that their curriculum focuses on developing relevant stud skills to optimise employment opportunities in all aspects of stud work.

“Our course has provided Ella with the chance to work on a busy foaling unit where she has been directly dealing with newborn foals and in-foal mares,” she said.

“The course also includes managerial aspects, with students shadowing bloodstock agents at the sales, working with vets on their daily rounds, and attending conformational analysis sessions, all of which help contribute to a strong understanding of bloodstock management.”

”In addition, Ella has been given the opportunity to work with our stallions in the covering shed to develop an understanding of how management can impact reproductive performance, something that is not offered by any other training provider,” said Abbie.

The training provided by The National Stud was an opportunity Ella “simply couldn’t turn down.”

“My time at the National Stud so far has been amazing,” said Ella. “The staff are continuously tailoring my learning experiences around the areas of the industry that interest me most, which, at the moment, is working with stallions to understand the European pedigree lines and how the progeny of the stallions are performing,” she said.

“I’ve also participated in ‘sitting up’, which is where we watch and monitor for labour signs in mares,” she explained. “There is nothing more rewarding than bringing new life into the world and I have been lucky enough to have delivered three UK National Stud foals with hopefully many more to come throughout the remainder of the scholarship.”

92% of UK National Stud graduates finish their course with a full-time job in the breeding industry.

“Graduates from The National Stud are employed across the globe by breeding enterprises and our education department is one of the world’s leading providers of Thoroughbred training,” said Abbie.

“We offer a range of bloodstock education programs, so after discussing the options and assessing Ella’s CV, we were able to determine the correct level of qualification and the program that would best meet Ella’s requirements whilst still providing a challenge,” she explained.

Several UK National Stud alumni are now working at management level, including 2021 graduate Maxim Nicholson, who is assistant trainer to Classic winning trainer Charlie Hills. 2021 graduate Emeric Guetin is the development officer for a top-class French bloodstock agency, and 2019 graduate Callum Helliwell is a Sky Sports Racing Presenter.

“We pride ourselves on helping to develop the next generation of industry leaders by offering a well-rounded, unique learning experience in a commercial environment,” said Abbie.

“We offer our alumni access to career guidance and our close communication with each graduate helps us monitor retention and employment moves in the thoroughbred industry,” she said.

Ella believes that the Les Young scholarship offers a unique opportunity to travel, learn and develop a broad skill set.

“The scholarship has ignited my desire to experience how multiple stud farms and industry professionals operate,” she said.

“Understanding the Northern Hemisphere’s equine management strategies and the European bloodstock sales circuit has been an eye-opening experience.”

If you’re looking to develop your skills in the thoroughbred industry, then the unique experience offered through the Les Young Scholarship might be for you. 2024 Scholarship applications are now open.

To find out more, visit The 2024 Les Young Scholarship | AgriFutures Australia

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