Stephen Brown Jr

Brown bound for the UK on scholarship

Stephen Brown Jnr will next week follow in the footsteps of his fellow Victorian apprentices Stephanie Thornton and Melissa Julius by embarking on a mentorship scholarship at a stable in Newmarket, the spiritual home of horse racing in the United Kingdom.     

As part of his International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) scholarship, Brown will spend the next four weeks learning from British trainer Stuart Williams, whose Diomed Stables are based in the heart of one of the world’s most famous horse racing towns. 

Williams, who spent some time in Australia with the late, great Bart Cummings as he made his way through the training ranks, has just enjoyed a career-best all-weather (synthetic track) season in the United Kingdom. He will have 60 horses in work during the turf season, which started at the end of last month.    

Williams was forced to cut short his burgeoning career as a jockey after struggling to keep his weight down and so is well placed to give some sage advice to Brown, one of the very few jockeys who stands over six feet in height.

Despite his stature, Brown has still enjoyed some success in the saddle and signed off with victory on the Mike Moroney-trained Grand Teton in his only ride at Werribee yesterday (Thursday). 

As well as immersing himself in the United Kingdom’s racing industry, Brown will also use the trip to decide when he follows his father, Stephen, into the training ranks.

Brown Snr rode more than 1,000 winners in Darwin in a career spanning 35 years, before transitioning to training in 2000, and his 18-year-old son is already considering his career options after hanging up his riding boots.  

“With my height, I’ve got to be realistic and accept that I’m probably not going to be race riding for too much longer, so I see this trip as a great chance to explore other avenues,” said Brown, who will be based at the British Racing School located close to the Diomed Stables. 

“I definitely see my future in training so it’s probably a matter of when, rather than if, I make the move. The plan at some point is to team up with my Dad at Flemington, and it will be good to go overseas to learn some different techniques so I can try out my own ideas.       

“I’ve heard they work their horses over longer distances in the UK, whereas over here it tends to be in shorter, sharper bursts, so it will be interesting to compare the different training methods. It’s a great opportunity for me, I’ve heard a lot about Newmarket so I’m excited to get over there and experience it for myself.”

Melissa Weatherley, Racing Victoria’s Athlete and Careers Development Manager, thanked Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, for giving young people in the racing industry the chance to broaden their experience by granting them the IFHRA scholarship. 

“These fantastic opportunities for our apprentices to ride and work overseas, and for RV to host young people from other international racing jurisdictions in return, gives them a great insight and the chance to gain some invaluable life skills, and has enabled us to build a global network which is of great benefit to all parties,” she said.