Greystoke boss Richards pays tribute to 'wonderful' Harding
Trainer Nicky Richards has led the tributes to the career of Brian Harding, who has been based at his Greystoke yard for a quarter of a century and announced this week that he would be retiring from the saddle on Friday.
"He's been amazing for us here at Greystoke over 25 years since he came from Kevin [Prendergast]," said an emotional Richards on Wednesday. "I know my father would be very proud of him, he thought the world of Brian. His parents will be very proud of him and Kevin will be very proud of him. As much as anything, he's the most wonderful father to his two girls."
He added: "It's a tribute in itself that he has lasted so long. He's coming up for 45, but he's still at the top of his game and you really can't say that for many jockeys of that age. He got injured after a bad fall on Shotofwine at Musselburgh in January, but apart from that he'd have been around the 50 mark again for the season. It's a great testament to Brian's work ethic and how he looks after himself.
"He's such a fit man, who's always been able to do 10st. He's not a big party man, but make no mistake when the occasion calls for it he can do it with the best of them."
Richards also played up Harding's part in the yard's success. "He's such a superb horseman and he's been a big part of the yard here. He breaks the horses in during the summer and you can see the time he puts into it. Some of the lovely chasers we've had down the years wouldn't be what they became without Brian."
Harding is also a popular and respected member of the weighing room and Richards said of his relationship with other jockeys: "Some of the lads in the weighing room he's riding with won't have been born when he started.
"He's a great example to young jockeys about work ethic: if he had time off, he wouldn't be lying in bed he'd be here riding out a few or just helping out. Whoever sits in his place in the weighing room has a big hole to fill, that's for sure."
Richards continued: "I said to him the other week: 'you know, you could do another season.' He said he just thought it was the right time to go. And it's a good time to go, on his terms when people still want him. He doesn't deserve to go on and on until nobody gives him rides."
Richards admitted that he was not sure of Harding's next move: "Nothing's set in stone, but I can assure you it will involve horses. Brian just loves them." He did however sound hopeful of Harding staying local. "He's a Cork man, but after so long he's also a Cumbrian man."
He also confirmed that he will be in attendance at Perth on Friday, when Harding will sign off after his ride on Anywaythewindblows in the bumper. "That'll be a big one and we'll be trying our best to send Brian out on a high," he said.