Careers in Racing – Philippa Hardy

Our content creators are back for the new year. First up, Sam and Alexa sat down with Philippa who joined the racing industry in 2018 on the BHA Development Programme. She talks all things racing which has lead her to a vast amount of jobs she has done so far in her career!

Hello Philippa, first up when did your interest in horseracing begin?

I grew up in Thirsk, so would go racing with family from about 11 years old.

Can you tell us about the Development Programme? How did you become involved and what were your experiences within it like?

The Development Programme was first highlighted to me by two BHA employees, whilst going back to the weighing room from the starts at Huntington, I was helping check girths for the Arabian Racing Organisation, who without that I probably wouldn’t have ever even thought to apply! I went to London from Yorkshire for my interview and it was only the third time I had been to London in my life.

I was then offered a place in the Licensing team. I packed my life into a suitcase and left my two ex-racehorses with my parents and set off to Newmarket for the initial two weeks. My family had bets, that being such a home bird, I wouldn’t last the two weeks in Newmarket, however, I was so busy having fun and learning I forgot all about being homesick.

How did you progress from that to work in the licensing department at the BHA?

I was placed in the Licensing team and then a permanent job came up so I applied. I would process and issue Apprentice, Professional Flat Jockey Licences and Amateur Rider Permits. I would deal with Trainers, Agents, The National Horseracing College and British Racing School on a frequent basis along with JETS, Racing Welfare and providing overseas clearances which was exciting.

What was your position in a Racing Yard and how did this differ from your work for the BHA?

I was a Racing Secretary after my time at the BHA. I used a lot of the skills I learnt as you use the same software to make entries and declarations as you would use as part of processing Licence Applications in Racing Admin. You are based within a yard, rather than a central location such as London as Licensing was, so it is lovely to have fresh air and be more hands on with the horses. While working at the BHA you certainly watch more racing and deal with more racing folk, but within the yard, you spend more time with a smaller pool of people. I was quite lucky, in that I also got to go racing, drive a two boxes and I felt this hugely beneficial to doing the job.

Now you’re an Assistant Steward back with the BHA, what does this role involve?

An average day when I’m on course would probably be:
Setting off to the races – you arrive two hours before the first race. I do tracks in Yorkshire and live there so its handy for lots of courses. Once I arrive at the races (and after saying hello and making cups of tea). I sit down and download the racecard, which I annotate, highlight, and get ready for the day ahead. Prior to the first race, we head outside and check the paddock, then head inside to watch the race, and after the race I go and wait at scales for any reports from the riders, gather people for enquires and help in any way I can. You do this for every race so you get a lot of steps in!

Have you had to have much training for this job? If so, what has it involved?

I have been shown the ropes by the other Assistant Stewards and the Stewards, which has been wonderful, a mix of using Teams and face to face, which is always great. Your always learning, which I enjoy and you work in such a great team of people who are always happy to educate and help you be the best you can be.

Which job has been your favourite?

My current role, I don’t ever stop smiling and I don’t think I ever will!

Have you had any nerves about moving around the industry?

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t! The best thing about moving around the industry is you have an instant connection with others, everyone will have a favourite horse / course / preference of flat and jump racing, so it’s always really easy to start a conversation to get rid of the nerves. Another great thing about the industry as there is a huge mix of people.

What do you enjoy most about working in horseracing?

The horses. ☺

What has been your most memorable day in racing?

It would probably be the first day I worked at Thirsk, I was so excited to go back to my favourite course from a different perspective.

What advice would you have for someone interested in a career in the sport?

I am a huge believer in growth mindset, so your ability is not fixed and shouldn’t limit you. Don’t set time limits on things and say yes to every opportunity!

Look out for more from Sam and Alexa this year who are the Careers in Racing content creators and part of the Youth Collaboration Group. You can find out more about the group here.

You can apply for the 2023 Development Programme by clicking here.

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