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Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Riding an Angel at home before loading the stalls

Kevin Harris, work rider at Clive Cox's and racecourse stalls handler
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The invaluable role played by stable, stud and racecourse staff has been recognised by Racing Staff Week, which began on Saturday.

In the fifth of a series to coincide with the initiative, the Racing Post spoke to Kevin Harris, who combines his morning job as a work-rider with Clive Cox, for whom he rides Harry Angel, with being a member of the Lambourn team of stalls handlers at the races.

Harris also rode Cox's Group 1 sprinter Lethal Force and while in Newmarket in the 1990s was associated with 1995 Derby and Arc winner Lammtarra.

Name Kevin Harris

Age 48 

Job Work-rider with Clive Cox and member of the Lambourn team of stalls handlers at the races

What was your first job in racing?
I started going into Kim Brassey's when I was 14 and still at school and went full-time when I left school. It was a year before they put me on a horse – I learned the proper way. 

Why did you want to work in racing?
At school I thought I'd join the army as I wanted to do a bit of travelling but I loved working at Kim's. As a teenager it was a brilliant environment to work in with the banter all the time – back then there was hardly a girl in the yard!

Who do you most admire in racing?
Aidan O'Brien. People think just because he has the best-bred horses it's all so easy, but he produces them on the day year after year. I've worked for a few trainers who have had a couple of good horses and some could handle the pressure and others couldn't. He's under pressure all the time. He's an absolute genius. 

How do you celebrate a winner?
We all go out after a big winner or Clive will throw a barbecue – if you don't celebrate big winners, what's the point pf doing the job? I remember a memorable Sunday night in Paris after Lammtarra won the Arc and it involved plenty of bottles of champagne.

How can racing attract more people into your type of job?
So many people have said so many different things but I think it's impossible to answer. Horses need looking after 24/7 and there are late nights travelling, giving up weekends such that you don't get a day off in ages. That's a hard job to sell to young people these days. The bottom line is they've got to love horses, otherwise they're wasting their time.

If you could pay someone else to do one part of your job what would it be?
To drive me to and from the races and navigate the M25. I detest motorways and every year it seems to get worse. The last Chelmsford night meeting I got out and thought I'd be home quickly, but they closed lanes all round the M25 for overnight work.

What is your biggest strength in your role?
Being confident around horses. You have to have that, especially working on the stalls team. If you start being scared down at the start the game's up. All the Lambourn stalls handling team are riding out in the morning before work and are horsemen.

If you weren't working in racing, what would you be doing?
I'd have gone into the army, although I don't know if I'd still be in it. I wanted to see a bit of the world, and have been lucky enough to do that in my job - I've been to Canada, Hong Kong and other places.

People think just because Aidan O'Brien has the best-bred horses it's all so easy, but he produces them on the day year after year
E.W. Terms
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