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A Day in the Life of....... a Racing Secretary

13 October 2015

About Me

My name is Joline Saunders and I work for the racehorse trainer Richard Phillips.

I have always loved horses and horse racing in particular from an early age.  My parents used to take me to Worcester racecourse which was our local track, on a regular basis.  After leaving school with A levels and moving to Northamptonshire, I started my working life in the office of a recruitment agency where I learned office skills.

It wasn't long before I moved on to work for Vodafone in the sales department at their head office near Banbury. After five years, I decided it was time I did something I enjoyed and pursued a position in the horseracing industry as a racing secretary.

This wasn't easy given that I had no previous racing experience, however I went racing as often as I could to try and make contacts and came across our assistant trainer, Gordy Clarkson at Stratford races in August 2001.  It came up in conversation that I was looking for a racing secretary job and it so happened that Richard Phillips was about to start recruiting for one. Gordy arranged a meeting with Richard at Worcester races the following day and I have been working for him ever since

About The Job

I have a very varied and enjoyable job.  I come in the office for 8.30am. I don’t ride out, although many secretaries do. The mornings tend to be very busy and the first important deadline is declarations for runners the next day, which have to be made by 10am. This involves finding out the ground, opposition and jockeys available to make an informed decision on running plans.

The next important deadline is for entries which are made six days in advance of the fixture and have to be done by midday.  In between these deadlines, we often have owners to be looked after, plenty of emails to send and phone calls to deal with.  The afternoons are spent updating the website with runners, results and with Richard’s blog. I also make sure the accounts are up to date and complete any Weatherbys paperwork such as naming horses or setting up partnerships.

Other duties include doing the monthly wages, making sure the health and safety regulations are met and ordering supplies. I also iron Richard’s shirts, although I am sure not many other secretaries do that!  Organising monthly events and hospitality for owners is also a large part of my job. 


It is important to be very well organised and to be able to work accurately in a stressful environment.  It is also essential to be confident and to enjoy dealing with people as this position involves speaking to owners, potential owners, jockeys and racecourses on a regular basis.

Dedication is also required as the job involves working weekends and unsociable hours at times, however the racing industry is very rewarding and exciting to be involved with and I would highly recommend it.

My Advice

I would recommend anyone interested in becoming a racing secretary to complete the racing secretary course that is offered by the British Racing School and the Northern Racing College.

It may be helpful to start in a larger yard with more than one secretary so there are people to help, as there is much to know regarding the administration of racing. I also spent a day at Weatherbys in Wellingborough when I first started, which I found an invaluable insight into how the administration of the industry is managed. 

When I was looking for a job, I found many racing secretary positions are filled by word of mouth so it is important to make as many contacts within the industry as possible. 

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