Blog 1 – Laura Parker

There are approximately 6,500 Stable Staff working in racing so I’d have thought there could have been someone more exciting than myself to have been asked to do a daily blog for Racing Staff Week… however, I like a challenge and that thought alone encourages me to make this one as interesting and informative as I can.

My names Laura Parker, I’m 27 and am one of two Travelling Head Grooms working for Warren Greatrex in Lambourn. I’ve been asked to write this blog for Racing Staff Week providing an insight into what my role involves and what it’s like working in a busy and upcoming jumps yard.

I’m going to start by telling you a little bit about myself… enough people in racing know me by now so unfortunately I can’t stray far from the truth and create some celebrity lifestyle past or supermodel like image… although feel free to believe both of those things!

I left St Mary’s University with a 2:1 degree in Sports Science aged 21 and returned home to Somerset in the summer with the intention of beginning my teacher training the following term. Back at home I live on a farm 2 fields away from Philip Hobbs’ Yard and where my younger sister Natalie was already working. Johnson White, the Assistant Trainer, lives across the road and I think was very surprised when one day I showed up at his door asking for a job. I had decided to work in the yard as an intended ‘ gap year’ before taking on a so say ‘proper job’ as a teacher; 7 years down the line I’ve not looked back and I am still working in racing with no intention of leaving. I spent 5 years at Hobbs in which time I rode in p2ps on our family horses, looked after and rode some top class horses including Village Vic and Chance du Roy (who I now proudly own) and also passed my HGV lorry exam. Most importantly I realised that there was nothing I was going to enjoy more than riding out racehorses each day and going to places such as Cheltenham, Aintree & Punchestown.

I began doing some of the driving during my last season at Hobbs and thought this was the kind of thing I wanted to do full time as it enabled me to go racing more often as well as earn some more responsibility and higher wages. It’s safe to say I was no natural in the bigger horse lorry and I think Sean Mulcaire ( Seany the Travelling Head Groom) definitely gained a few more grey hairs on the days he took me along as ‘wingman’ for lorry training! I tell people I moved to Warrens yard the following season as I wanted to experience somewhere other than Somerset and to be doing more travelling … in reality it’s because he only has 2 stall horse lorries so both myself and other road users are now much safer!!!! Either way I am now settled into Lambourn life and am onto my second season working for ‘Team Greatrex’.

As its summer the yard is actually at its quietest, we’ve only one or two lots to ride each day and there’s often more time spent with a painting rather than grooming brush in our hand. I’m not a fan of painting  so have become better at finding essential jobs that need doing in the racing room (eating biscuits) or ensuring the lorries and tack are being cleaned at least twice  a week whether they’ve been used or not… on the whole anything to avoid painting. On the plus side we’re often done by 11.30am at the moment so get a nice few hours off until evening stables where again the workload is much reduced in comparison to the winter.

Throughout the week I’m going to chat about what I’ve been up to in work, at the moment we’ve 2 runners at Uttoxeter on Sunday so that will be my next days racing as well as getting pictures from schooling and work mornings and anything else that might help me stand a chance of keeping anyone remotely interested in reading this for the remainder of the week.

For now, thanks for reading this far and learning a bit about me, tomorrow in work is usually a schooling morning so I should hopefully have pictures of Gavin & Harry to show you and any other gossip from Uplands worth telling you about.