Lee Swift rode from 2000 until 2004 on the Flat, riding for Eric Alston, David Barron and John Weymes but had to stop riding due to weight issues. He worked as head lad to David Brown and as assistant trainer in New Zealand before returning to the UK where he secured his current role as Yard Supervisor at the Northern Racing College.
How did you get your current job at the Northern Racing College and what does it consist of?
I got the job in August 2014 and heard about it through JETS who I keep in contact with through their emails and newsletters. I graduated from the Northern Racing College in 1998 so I know the place well. The yard supervisor role means I get involved with virtually everything that goes on here. It’s a very hands on job and in particular I help with the jockey training and do quite a lot of stalls work with the apprentices.
What support have you received from JETS?
JETS gave me funding for a tree surgeon course and have provided me with a range of information and advice relating to my current job. Lisa advised me that they were advertising again.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
It’s really satisfying to see the students’ progress and achieve their goals. Some kids are a bit unruly and come from different backgrounds and while many have the dream to ride, they don’t have much of a clue about racing as a whole so as a former jockey I get a bit more respect because they know I’ve been there.
What experiences as a jocke y have you been able to pass on?
For those that want to get on, you try and help them get on as best you can. A lot of students arrive to do different courses and find it really tough and so I am able to pass on my experience and knowledge to help keep them motivated and understand not just about riding but the whole sport and prepare them for the mental challenges of all the ups and downs they will face.
What advice would you have for jockeys thinking about their future careers?
The main thing I would say is not just to focus on racing, take advantage of any training that may be available or opportunities that arise to help you develop your skills for the future. Lots of jockeys don’t know what they want to do but I think you should try out courses even if they don’t seem relevant at the time. I did a computing course which has eventually become really useful.