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Desk job keeps stable ticking over

02 July 2013

IT'S MUCH longer than most marriages last, but Jim Hiner remains happily wedded to the job well into his fifth decade of service. He sits in the office at Kremlin House stables in Newmarket with a smile on his face, the unseen hand behind thousands of winners, the righthand man's righthand man.

"My working day is basically a succession of deadlines," says Hiner, and he hits them better then any newspaperman.

"I work Monday to Saturday lunchtime, and then some Sunday mornings where required. I come in at about 7.30am, deal with the fallout from the previous day's runners, and then Roger comes in and we go over the runners to be declared at 10am. Then it's a case of dealing with jockeys' agents, sorting out transport, that sort of thing.

"At midday there are entries to be made for six-day closing, then in the afternoon I'll have passports to organise for staff taking horses overseas, expenses for staff going racing will need sorting out, and then there's the banking to be done.

Nominally I finish work at 5pm but I was here until six yesterday."

It's quite a long day, but a very long career. Hiner started his working days in the office of a steel reinforcing company and when he was laid off he applied to television rentals magnate and racehorse tycoon David Robinson. He got the job; he's never needed to apply for another.

"I started with David Robinson in November 1970 in one of his rental shops. Shortly after that I began helping with the book-keeping on the racing side and then gradually took it over.

"When David was cutting back his interests and his last private trainer Michael Jarvis was set to go public, Michael asked me if I'd work for him.

"In 1975 we started off together at Clarehaven, then moved to Pegasus Stables, then in 1978 we came here to Kremlin House and I've been here ever since.

"A woman does the accounts and wages on a part-time basis, and Jackie Jarvis updates the website and reports to all the owners. Everything else comes across my desk."

Hiner's experience was an enormous help to Roger Varian when he took over the licence on Jarvis's retirement, and his long service gained due recognition earlier this year when he won the inaugural Administration Staff award at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards.

"That was very nice indeed," he says, his quiet satisfaction speaking volumes. So how does Roger manage when you're on holiday, Jim? A sheepish expression crosses his face. "Well, I haven't actually had a holiday for a year or two," he says. If I were his boss I wouldn't let him go away either.

Name Jim Hiner Age 65 Job Secretary to trainer Roger Varian How long in the job 42 years (employed continuously by David Robinson, Michael Jarvis and now Varian) Q&A 'I don't shut my books at 5pm and forget about work' As a boy, what did you want to be when you grew up? As a very small boy I remember wanting to be an electrician - goodness knows why.

Best thing about the job? Playing a key role within a big team, and it's the type of job where you don't shut your books at 5pm and forget about work, because there's all the horses to keep tabs on.

Worst thing about the job? Doing the VAT returns - luckily I don't have to do that bit any more.

Favourite horse and why? The one I remember best is Carroll House. The day after he won the Arc the phone never stopped ringing with messages of congratulations.

Retirement plans? None, not at the moment. As long as I can get up the stairs to the office I'll be here.

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