One of the best aspects of the racing industry is all the different people you cross paths with. Lifelong friendships can be formed over just one common interest. It's a tough game, but I'm yet to meet anyone who isn't passionate about what they do. Highlighting this passion was one of the driving forces behind the creation of this blog. This week I went Behind the Barriers With entrepreneur, wife, mum and horse lover, Natasha Slade.
*Natasha, with husband Bruce and son Macarthur.
How long have you been involved in the racing industry and what first sparked your interest in it?
I started working for a trainer straight out of university - Patrick Payne in Melbourne in 2007. My Dad has always been a punter and every Saturday the races would be on in our home. I think I knew Dad's TAB account number before I knew our home phone number! Dad would occasionally take me to the races at Moonee Valley, our local track, from there my passion developed.
What was it like working for Racing's First Lady, Gai Waterhouse? What was your exact role and how long did you work for her?
Gai really is an incredible woman. She is the hardest working person I have ever met. She is passionate, determined, strong willed and she believes in herself like no other. When I first started working for her, I was the Assistant Racing Manager. This role included liaising with owners, general racing administration such as horse registration, transfer of ownerships, communications with owners. After about twelve months, I was promoted to the Racing Programmers role which I absolutely loved. This role involved looking after the race nominations and acceptances, booking jockeys, attending the races and trials and doing reports for owners and forward planning programs for horses.
Your husband has had a varied and successful career in racing and is now the General Manager of Newgate Farm. Was it an easy decision to make the move from the city to Scone?
Bruce and I met working for Gai. I was his assistant when he was Racing Manager. We always worked well together but we definitely butted heads at times! After a number of years working for Gai, Bruce decided to go out on his own and form his own syndication company and he became the exclusive syndicator for Gai, purchasing and syndicating horses such as Excess Knowledge, Sweet Redemption, Role Model, Caped Crusader and The Bull. The business was going well but it is definitely a credit to all syndicators what they do, the hours are long and the risks are great. Syndication is such a wonderful thing though as it allows anyone to own a share in a racehorse and gives them a wonderful experience with a hands on approach.
After about 18 months in business, (I was working for fashion designers Camilla and Marc as their PA & Office Manager at the time), Bruce was approached by Henry Field to become Director of Stallions for Newgate Farm. This was a hard decision for us to make, close down the business and move to the Hunter Valley or continue on with Round Table Racing in Sydney? We made the move to Scone as the opportunity was too good to pass up, the chance to live the country life and to help build something with Newgate being such a young farm for Bruce was an exciting one. We thought it would be a nice lifestyle for our further children and a way to get ahead.
Once we moved to Scone, I decided to start my own business - Bloodstock Social. My business provides social media services for the racing industry with clients such as Bjorn Baker, ANZ Bloodstock News and Bluebloods. I have since also started a wellness business. This is a social media based business where I am able to assist people with their health and wellness goals. The main focus though is helping people (especially Mums) achieve their financial goals through the business. I get great satisfaction out of helping people earn an extra stream of income from home, help pay off their mortgage, credit card debt or save for a holiday for example! All within stolen moments of time & I love that I am able to teach & mentor them throughout the process.
What is your favourite raceday attend?
I think of all, Derby Day is my favourite day. I am a Victorian and this race day has everything. A time honoured traditional race such as the Derby with a sexy race like the Coolmore for the 3yo sprinters. You have the Lexus which gives the winner the opportunity to run in the Melbourne Cup. Living in NSW now, I also really look forward to the Golden Slipper. There is so much importance placed on this race from a breeding perspective. This race can produce the next stallion or it could make a first season sire. What Racing NSW have also done with the Championships and The Everest is brilliant too and a must attend.
You always look immaculate at the races. How would you describe your raceday fashion style and do you have any icons your draw outfit inspiration from?
My style I would definitely describe as classic. I am very conservative and traditional in a lot of what I do on race day. I have strong beliefs about certain things on race day - hem length always to the knee or below, no cleavage, no cut outs, felt/wool/leather in autumn/winter and straw/sinamay in spring/summer. I also love a big hat & tend to prefer this style of millinery over the more trend driven pieces.
I really enjoy seeing people like Gai and Amanda Elliot from the VRC dress for the races. I also love seeing what people like Kate Waterhouse and Nadia Bartel are doing. I love following Crystal Kimber and Lindsay Ridings as they have some beautiful race day outfits. Other than that, Audrey Hepburn is definitely a style icon of mine.
Working in racing and breeding can be a 24/7 job, with a lot of travel involved. How do you juggle the work/life balance, especially now with your young son?
Living on a horse stud is definitely a 24/7 lifestyle but we feel very privileged to be able to lead this life. Living on a stud is such a great place for our little boy Macarthur (Mac), we can go for walks around the farm, play in the garden and watch the trucks/tractors etc. I am incredibly fortunate that both my businesses allow me to work from home and a lot of that is done while Mac is in bed. We also travel with Bruce to horse sales throughout Australia and race meetings where we can. Obviously this will change when Mac gets older and starts school but I think it is important that we spend as much time as a family while we can. We are incredibly fortunate and grateful to be able to work in the industry we do so it doesn't really feel like work. All our friends are in racing so it is also very social and with the next generation of kids coming through now, it will be exciting to watch them all grow up together in this wonderful industry.
*Follow Natasha on Instagram - @natashaslade2
*Newgate Farm was founded by Henry Field in 2010 with only a handful of mares on a 250 acre leased property. Today, Newgate is one of the leading farms in Australia encompassing 1,700 acres of prime Hunter Valley land. Establishing a stallion division in 2012, Newgate is now home to 13 high-class stallions including Foxwedge, Sizzling, Criterion and Capitalist. Find out more about Newgate Farm
*Natasha & Bruce at 2017 Kennedy Oaks Day, Flemington.