Natasha Radford enjoyed a career highlight when she joined the judging team at Kempton Park on King George day in December 2015.
Natasha, who was the first-ever female race judge in Australia, said it was an experience she will never forget and highlighted the subtle differences in race judging between the two hemispheres.
"In Australia we have nose, a short half head, a half head, a short head, head, long head and so on," say says. "In the UK the judge has nose, a half-head, head, neck, a half-length and length. Also, any measurement bigger than one length is calculated by computer and not by physical measurement as we do for every margin in Australia."
Her Kempton experience was a whistle-stop introduction to British horseracing meeting with various officials, learning how the BHA works, the history behind horseracing in the UK also walking the track. She then joined the rest of the team – the stewards, the handicappers, scales, judge, betting officers and starter – for a briefing ahead of the racing, which means that any concerns or last minute changes can be discussed and ensures that everyone, as far as possible, is aware of issues which might arise.
One thing particularly noticed by Natasha was the height of the fences at Kempton compared to those in her native country.
“The jumps are huge!”
“They are much bigger than in Australia, but I think it is much better. I show jump and do cross country at home and I know that if the jumps are bigger and sturdier the horses go slower and treat the jump with some respect."
While in the UK Natasha also made a packed visit to Newmarket starting at the yard of Flat trainer Rae Guest whose wife, Rachel, is a Women in Racing member. Natasha was treated to watching a string of newly broken-in yearlings find their feet on the canter grounds followed by a tour of the Horseracing Museum and then a visit to Darley Stud, where she met leading stallion DUBAWI, the Derby winner GOLDEN HORN and shuttle sire HLEMET. The private stallion parade was followed by a tour of Sheikh Mohammed’s stud.
Natasha, now back judging and working in Australia, is hoping that her judging career of “firsts” has not come to an end. “I want to be the first woman to judge the Melbourne Cup,” she smiles.