BENTLEY AND HIS GIRLS: Hannah Gunn, Lynette Williams and Nicola Garner with Warwick TAFE’s yearling colt, nicknamed Bentley, destined for the Magic Millions sales at the end of the month.
BENTLEY AND HIS GIRLS: Hannah Gunn, Lynette Williams and Nicola Garner with Warwick TAFE’s yearling colt, nicknamed Bentley, destined for the Magic Millions sales at the end of the month. Toni Somes

Bentley in a TAFE class of his own

NICOLA Garner is only half-jesting when she mentions her Warwick TAFE classmates might form a syndicate to buy the college's yearling colt at this year's Magic Million Sales on the Gold Coast.

The quiet thoroughbred, fondly nicknamed Bentley, was born and raised on the college's Dragon St campus as part of the TAFE's innovative horse breeding course.

And at the end of the month, after being well-handled, well-groomed and well-fed, he will be offered for auction at the prestigious Magic Million yearling sales.

I bought a good type of thoroughbred mare in-foal for the course in 2010. She was relatively cheap, but reasonably bred, so I thought we could sell her foals.

It is the first time the college has offered a young thoroughbred for sale through the premier selling event, but it is unlikely to be the last.

Bentley has a handful of half-siblings on the campus. And despite their integral role in the horse breeding curriculum, the young horses can't all be Ever-practical TAFE equine instructor Kellie Monckton admitted she was going to miss having the cheeky colt on the campus.

"I bought a good type of thoroughbred mare in-foal for the course in 2010. She was relatively cheap, but reasonably bred, so I thought we could sell her foals," Mrs Monckton explained.

"Bentley was her first foal and he was perfect from the start.

"He was born at 10am, so the students were here to watch the birth.

"And we've handled him as a weanling so it's been an invaluable hands-on experience.

"So the plan was always to sell him, the mare has gone on to have another foal each year so it's become a vital part of our course."

But three weeks before the sale and Bentley's role in the course is far from over.

His preparation ahead of the Magic Millions will now be the focus of a tight-knit trio of students from the horse breeding course.

Hannah Gunn, Lynette Williams and Nicola Garner will oversee the feeding, grooming and exercise regime for the young horse at the campus and then for the week before sale on the Gold Coast.

"We're pretty attached so who knows - we might just form the syndicate and buy Bentley ourselves," Ms Garner joked.

In the meantime, students from the Warwick course will steel themselves for a major hands-on role at the 2013 Magic Millions Sale.

For the second consecutive year, students will work for predominate Australian thoroughbred studs during the sale.

"This year I will take a team of seven students down and we will be working for the Widden Stud from the Hunter Valley," Mrs Monckton said.

"Widden have 60 horses at the sale so it's going to keep us busy, because by the time you feed, water, walk and do boxes there is not going to be a lot of day left.

"But this is a real test of a student's ability to make it in the thoroughbred industry," she said.

"We're up at 5am and I am working all day beside them.

"So I make it very clear, if you don't want to work, don't come."

Mrs Monckton said proving you had what it took at this level had reaped dividends for other Warwick TAFE students.

"Last year one of our students's was offered a job at the sale and shifted to Sydney to work at a pre-training complex," she said.

Exposure at Magic Millions level also worked the other way with many people interested in breaking into the thoroughbred program contacting Warwick TAFE about the horse breeding program.

"This is a multi-million dollar industry with a lot of employment opportunities, but at the moment we are the only place in Queensland offering training."



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