Padge Whelan rode as a jump jockey for ten years before serious injuries forced his retirement. Having undertaken a degree course in Equine Business Management at The Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, he landed his dream job with Dengie Horse Feeds last year as Irish Sales Manager and Thoroughbred Specialist having undertaken company sales and product training beforehand.
Since getting your JETS scholarship for the RAC course, what further support have JETS provided you with?
Gaining employment has become increasingly difficult for university graduates over recent years. Lisa has been invaluable in terms of her support with job applications, CV writing and interview technique as well as offering very sound and practical generic job related advice.
Obviously you did a couple of work placements with your degree course but how did you get your job with Dengie Horse Feeds?
I’ve always had a keen interest in equine performance nutrition and this really evolved during my time back at study. I’m sure what enhanced my application was a unique combination of years of practical industry experience combined with an honours degree in an equine related subject.
Can you give a brief description of what your role entails and what the best bits and the most challenging bits are about the job?
I’m employed as Dengie’s sales manager for Ireland and as the company’s thoroughbred specialist. This involves promoting the feed brand to trade accounts and end users. I divide my time between looking after wholesalers, stockists and giving feed advice on yards. It’s very rewarding to see horses dramatically improve when they start using Dengie products. The challenge to the role is that the work load is infinite and I often find that there simply aren’t enough hours in each day.
Are there any skills you developed as a jockey which are helping you in your job now?
Horseracing is such a large proportion of the horse feed industry as a whole, especially in Ireland. It’s important to have a sound understanding of the nutritional requirements of the thoroughbred sector. It’s equally as important for me to be able to communicate how Dengie’s products help to meet these requirements. Industry knowledge and industry specific communication skills make being a former jockey a distinct advantage for my role.
What are your career ambitions?
Although Dengie already is a very well established brand with a large portfolio of high profile clients, I would like to play my part to ensure that there is further growth on both a domestic and global scale.
What advice would you give to young jockeys riding now?
It’s easy to forget that a jockey’s career more often than not will be a very short one. Enjoy racing but make second career plans early. Even if you’re having ample success and staying injury free, the shelf life, particularly for a jump jockey is so short that you are only briefly passing through in the scheme of a working life.