'Fontwell has always been part of my life'

Bruce Jacksonin Equestrian

The invaluable role played by the stable, stud and racecourse staff has been recognised by Racing Staff Week, which began last Saturday with the first of series of daily initiatives.

Sponsored by Betfair, it is designed to inform and engage racegoers and supporters of the sport, while rewarding those who dedicate their working lives to the sport.

In the initiative, the Racing Post spoke to groundsman Darrin Lenharth about his experiences of the sport.

Name: Darrin Lenharth
Age: 48
Job: Groundsman and fence builder at Fontwell

What was your first job in racing?
What I am doing now. I used to work on a dairy farm and got offered the job at Fontwell 15 years ago through a contact after cleaning up the litter after a raceday.

Why did you want to work in racing?
I have worked outside all my life and always lived two or three miles from the track so Fontwell has always been part of my life - I remember my mum bringing me up to the course to peep through the fence on racedays.

Who do you most admire in racing?
Tony McCoy - we are never going to see someone like him again, he was super human; Ed Arkell, our clerk of the course who has given me chances; and the head groundsman who employed me Roger Mant, whose son Paul took over from him.

Do you bet and if so best winner?
I'm not a betting person, especially after years of trainers saying their horses are going to win, but I had a little flutter on Many Clouds when he won the National.

How can racing attract more people into your type of job?
Most of the groundstaff here are around 50 and we need to attract younger people. Perhaps an apprenticeship or two, or opportunities at college to do courses, would help.

If you could pay someone else to do one part of your job what would it be?
The clearing up after rebuilding a fence. I have just finished doing the bottom-bend fence, cutting it to the right height, and now face six hours on my hands and knees sorting out the sticks and using the right ones to stuff the fence.

What is your biggest strength in your role?
I like to think it is my building of the fences, which Roger Mant taught me. It is always good to get praise from trainers and jockeys about the fences, and even Tony McCoy said how well the fences rode here.

If you weren't working in racing, what would you be doing?
Probably still working on the dairy farm, milking cows. I am a morning person and always get up early to enjoy the peace and quiet. That is another thing I can still enjoy working at Fontwell.

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