Richard Thomas rode as a Flat jockey for 15 years notching up around 150 winners from 1000 rides including a Group 1 on International Arabian Day at Newbury and a Listed race aboard Ripplesmaid at Chester. With the pressures of family life and dwindling rides, Richard stopped race riding in 2013 and linked up with JETS to do some training courses before landing a job as an estate agent. With some great sales experience under his belt, Richard decided he wanted to get back into the racing industry and has recently joined feed and supplement company Equifeast as a Business Development Executive focusing on horsefeed sales to racing yards.
How did JETS help you when you retired from racing?
Lisa has been a massive help to me over the years. Transitioning out of racing was really hard as I needed to decide what I could see myself doing every day because when you’re racing you’re really being paid to do a hobby. I’ve always stayed in touch with JETS, doing courses and keeping an eye on the job board. Lisa helped me with my CV and interview techniques which helped give me the confidence to get my job as an estate agent.
How did you get this new role with Equifeast?
I realised that I’d probably turned my back on racing too quickly after I stopped riding and was looking for a role in which I could work in the racing world again. The role was posted on the Equine Careers website and Lisa forwarded it onto me. The role appealed as I had gained a lot of sales skills in my previous role and I knew I could bring a lot of knowledge and contacts to Equifeast who are keen to break into the racing market. The company is based in Nailsworth where they produce all their products and they have some great products which I’ll be targeting at racing yards all across the country.
What are you most looking forward to about the role?
It’s the perfect role for me combining racing, customer services and sales. I went racing the other day and enjoyed renewing old contacts and networking with owners and trainers. I’m really enjoying being back in my comfort zone in the racing world.
How did your skills as a jockey transfer to your career outside of racing?
Racing gave me a good grounding and taught me how to conduct myself which has really helped me in my new career. It teaches you good people skills and as a jockey you’re always promoting yourself which is such an important part of any sales role. Also being on the road a lot isn’t a problem for me, I’m used to that from racing and enjoy going to different places and meeting new people all the time.
What have you struggled with most?
The technology side is definitely a challenge but I’ve just had to learn the software systems and there’s always been people to help me. Communication is what is most important though and dealing with customers face to face is best for me although over the years my telephone skills have improved a lot.
What advice would you give to other jockeys considering retirement?
Don’t let your career drag on. I was 33 years old when I stopped riding and I’m glad I stopped when I did. It’s important to think about the future sooner rather than later and this shouldn’t be deemed a negative thing. Obviously you’re a long time not riding but on the flipside I’m glad I did it when I did it as it gave me time to establish a proper second career.