As the first female Raceday Judge in Victoria - Natashia Radford's job is a dream come true. It is a job with much responsibility and requires a calm demeanour but for Natashia, who lives and breathes horses, it is a passion that has turned into a career.
Natashia Radford meeting her childhood idol and 7 x Olympic Equestrian Rider & Gold Medallist Andrew Hoy
Here, ELLE chats with Natashia about her role as race-day judge, and her seasoned tips for spring racing style.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A RACE-DAY JUDGE?
In a nut shell a judge judicates a race, meaning they decide who wins the race and the position of the horses to follow. My job starts days before the actual race. It involves learning all the horses' names and colours for a race meeting (on average there's more than 100 horses per race meeting).
During the race I follow similar methodology as a race caller by recalling the horses and watching for any horses that may be pulled up or may have a change in race tactics. My adrenaline then kicks into gear as they come down the home straight and I record by sight to paper the field of horses to cross the line in less than three seconds (most times it's one to two seconds).
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN RACING?
I grew up riding horses and at the age of 18 I was fortunate enough to work for the late Bart Cummings and also Graeme Rogerson. A few years later I worked casually as an equine pool supervisor, so I have always had a love for horses.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE FIRST FEMALE RACE-DAY JUDGE IN AUSTRALIA?
What an honour; I've worked hard for it though. It's not just about being a judge; my message is to do whatever your heart desires. Don't let sex, ethnicity or a disability hold you back. Just work hard and keep pushing until you reach your goals–it's not easy!
DO YOU THINK AUSTRALIAN RACING IS BECOMING MORE INCLUSIVE OF WOMEN?
To the general public, I feel it is perceived that women are now being involved in racing, and it's a new thing. Yet when I was working in the racing stables ten years ago, there was already a large percentage of women working in the stables, riding horses and working in the office. So in some aspects the presence of women within racing was pre-existing, yet there has been an increase in female jockeys, which is fab news!
WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU NEED TO BE A SUCCESSFUL RACE-DAY JUDGE?
You need to have a fantastic memory, be as cool as a cucumber and possess a sharp mind and eye to capture a tight finish by sight.
WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO LOOK WHEN VISITING (NOT WORKING) THE RACES?
I love a classic yet bold frock that accentuates my curves and a fascinator or head piece–that is my hero piece for my outfit.
WHAT'S ONE THING WE SHOULD ALL KNOW ABOUT HORSE RACING?
Owning a racehorse is such a thrill (syndicate is the cheaper alternative), or attending one of the big country race meetings–it's a hoedown like no other!
WHEN IT COMES TO FASHION ON THE FIELD, WHICH CELEBS HAVE PERFECT RACE-DAY STYLE?
Hands down Jennifer Hawkins. She always looks flawless and is a picture of horse racing fashion. But my girl crash is Ash Pollard. Her use of popping colour, classic frock cuts and those curls! She is sassy, fierce and owns the ground she walks on.