Melbourne Cup: Jason makes sure the shoe fits

HORSE racing can be a game of millimetres.

The margin can separate first from second.

And it can also determine whether a horse is passed fit to race in the first place.

That's where farrier Jason Brettle enters the equation.

Armed with a hammer, nails, cutters and an anvil, the Castle Hill resident is responsible for the maintenance and changing of horseshoes.

Some of Rosehill Gardens' biggest stables, including Chris Waller, Tim Martin and M.J.W Hawkes put their faith in the 39-year-old.

Although he makes his job sound simple, there is a lot of pressure that falls on his shoulders — and the horses' feet.

"It's basically a steel hammer, nails and the foot," he said.

"Horses feet are like fingernails and they are constantly growing.

"There is only a certain amount of nail to work with, otherwise they feel it.

"You know if you've gone too deep because they will react straight away."

There is an element of risk for anyone that works around horses.

The animals can be unpredictable and temperamental.

And Brettle's previous two dislocated shoulders and broken toes are the result of the occupational hazards.

"A week doesn't go by where one doesn't kick us or bite us," he said. "The first time I dislocated my shoulder was from a horse kicking me, the second time one came down on top of me.

"You can't fight them, they are 500 kilos."

The race that stops a nation may be in Melbourne but Rosehill Gardens will host their own race meet on the first Tuesday of November.

Despite the distance, Brettle said the atmosphere on Melbourne Cup day could be felt in Sydney.

"Everywhere you go the joint's buzzing," he said.

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