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A Day in the life of...a Stipendiary Steward

26 February 2016

Stipendiary stewards ensure that races are run within the rules of racing at all meetings and there are normally two at each race meeting. They are also there to help stewards following a stewards inquiry into a race. 

Hugh Hynes talks about a day in the life of a stipendiary steward. 

How did you get involved in this role?
My educational background is in business and information technology which is the area I worked in after college. I always had a big interest in horseracing and bloodstock so I was happy to move to Paddy Power bookmakers as a horseracing trader when an opportunity arose. I spent two great years in the race room there at a time of tremendous growth in the industry before departing for the horse racing regulator, The Turf Club. I have filled a few roles within the organisation but most of my time is now spent as a stipendiary steward. 

What attracted you to the job? 
To work in a sport in which you are so interested is obviously a huge attraction.While bookmaking and trading was interesting I probably had more love for the sport itself rather than the gambling side of it. Going racing rather than going to an office is another big plus to stewarding. 

What is a typical day like for you? 
I aim to arrive at the track about two and a half hours before the first race. I like to set up the equipment and go through the card while things are quiet. I’ll also go through the betting and any market moves from earlier in the day. At this stage the two stipes usually identify any housekeeping issues that need to be brought to the stewards’ attention before racing begins. An hour before the first race the card is closed and we relay any issues to the stewards. When racing starts we’ll watch the race live and review the recording to ensure no riding offences have taken place. If we feel something in the race warrants an inquiry the riders will be brought into the Stewards room and given an opportunity to give their side of the story. One of the stipes presents the inquiry to the panel and leads the questioning of the riders while the other advises the stewards on the application of the rules and the recommended penalty.The stewards will then decide on how to deal with the matter. 

Stewards inquiry taking place.
Sometimes there’ll be reports from the clerk of the scales or other officials and these are dealt with as they happen to ensure the proper running of the meeting. At the end of the day, all inquiry reports are provided to the press and despatched back to The Turf Club HQ at the Curragh along with audio recordings of any inquiries and other administrative documents. 

What is your favourite part of the job? 
Probably the best part of the job is that no two days are the same. Every track is different, every card is different, the Stewards panels are different and the issues to be dealt with are different. There is always something new. Probably the only thing that remain the same is Nuggie the Valet’s jokes which never change. 

Which part of your job would you like to change? 
The driving gets a bit tiring, particularly the long cross-country drives in the busy summer season. I love Sligo racecourse but any politician promising a motorway to the town would get my vote! 

What is the career progression for someone in your role? 
There is no defined career progression as a stipendiary steward unless you move abroad to work in another racing nation. It’s probably more of a vocation than a career.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking a similar role?
Vacancies for stipendiary stewards are rare but some have succeeded in migrating from being stewards’ secretaries at point-to-points to becoming racecourse stipendiaries. Any experience within the racing industry would be a big help together with a deep understanding of the sport.

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