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David Baxter speaks to Rhys Evans, who is learning all the time in his new role as head lad to Marco Botti

28 October 2015


‘It can be stressful but I enjoy the job’

David Baxter speaks to Rhys Evans, who is learning all the time in his new role as head lad to Marco Botti

Name: Rhys Evans Age 27
Job: Head lad to Marco Botti
Best moment: Excelebration winning the German Guineas to give Marco his first Classic and Jakkalberry winning the first running of the American St Leger

HAVING already spent a decade working in racing, Rhys Evans isn't lacking in experience, but it was his lack of height which led to suggestions that he get involved in the industry. “After school I studied a diploma in horse management, and the whole time I was there I was by far the smallest lad and everyone used to tell me I should try racing and it sparked an interest,” Evans says. 

Trying his hand at becoming a jockey was never considered a viable option by Evans, as he explains: “I knew I was going to struggle with the weight and because I’d studied the horse management course I always wanted to go into a more yard-based role.”
His first employer was Mark Tompkins, where he spent a year learning the ropes and breaking in yearlings at his stud in Garrowby, before moving to Stuart Williams for a season. Then in 2007 he joined Marco Botti and he has not looked back.
“My friend had started working for Marco and said he was looking for other stable lads. He was only in his second season training and it seemed an exciting opportunity so I came and spoke to Marco and started working for him,” Evans says. 

In his time working for Botti, Evans has progressed through the ranks, and he says: “I started as a lad and was lucky enough to look after horses such as Excelebration and Jakkalberry. I got to travel and go to places like Dubai and America, then I settled down with my partner and thanks to the horses I’d looked after I was able to buy a house and decided it was the right time to move into a more yard-based  role.

“For the last two years I've been working in the second yard gaining experience as a second lad and this year is my first season in the main yard as full head lad.” Working with head man Paul Francis and assistant trainer Karen Parris, Evans is happy in his new role and the environment. “Paul and Karen are great to learn from and I enjoy the job. It can be stressful but it most certainly has its benefits,” he says. “It’s the happiest yard I’ve worked in and is an enjoyable place to come to work, which is why I’ve stayed here for eight years.” Evans has no plans to go anywhere else anytime soon and would like to work up to becoming a head man in time. He says: “Being a head lad at the moment is a nice level and I’m quite content. I’m sure there’s still plenty to learn.”   

What’s the best bit about being in racing? Going fast on a horse. There aren’t many other equine disciplines where you get to go that quick.

And the worst? The early mornings. I was told when I got into racing they’d get easier. Eleven years on it’s still not pretty to get up at half four every morning.

What are your ambitions? To become a senior head lad and then see what the future holds.

What can racing do to attract more youngsters to the sport? Racing needs to publicise itself more as a vocation that’s accessible. I was lucky as I was bought up in the local area and knew Newmarket and racing and that it was an option to take, but I'm sure many youngsters wouldn't know the first steps towards getting into racing.

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