Hard­ing em­braces new life off track

Af­ter a long ca­reer, Cork’s Brian Hard­ing is pass­ing on his knowl­edge to a new gen­er­a­tion of jock­eys, as Jor­dan Mc­Carthy re­ports

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport -

CORK’S Brian Hard­ing re­tired a year and a half ago and nowa­days he is pass­ing on his knowl­edge to the younger gen­er­a­tion of rid­ers in his role as a jock­eys’ coach.

Work­ing for the Bri­tish Horserac­ing Au­thor­ity, the Castle­town­roche na­tive is cur­rently help­ing 13 dif­fer­ent rid­ers to ful­fil their po­ten­tial.

One of those makes their liv­ing on the Flat, the other 12 ply their trade, as Hard­ing did for 25 years, over jumps.

The 46 year old is work­ing with the jock­eys on ev­ery as­pect of their rac­ing ca­reers, from hon­ing their skills as horse­men, to manag­ing their fi­nances, and im­prov­ing their use of the whip, to achiev­ing peak fit­ness.

Three me­chan­i­cal horses at Hard­ing’s base, si­t­u­ated at Cum­bria in the north of Eng­land, are among the re­sources at his clients’ dis­posal.

‘‘The boys will come here, we’ll work away on the me­chan­i­cal horse, and we’ll video it and look back on it.

“We’ll sort of work on ev­ery­thing that needs work­ing on.

“We’ll get them to prac­tice us­ing the stick in their left and right hands, their tech­nique, their fit­ness – all that sort of stuff,’’ Hard­ing said.

‘‘(In re­la­tion to) all the work we do, we have an iPad and we have to log ev­ery­thing in.

“If a lad gets sus­pended for (overuse of) the whip to­day, they (the BHA) can look at that on the iPad and ask ‘right, has his coach been work­ing with him?’

“It’s a good sys­tem and you have to fol­low ev­ery­thing up.

‘‘For the jump rac­ing lads, we’ll watch them school­ing as well.

“I’ll go to the yard, we have a horse here and we’ll do a bit of school­ing on him.

“We’ll video it and look back at it and go through all that.

“We look at their races and go over that with them and think ‘right, could we have done this?’

“I might go rac­ing the odd day and walk the track with some of the younger lads.

“We’ll try and help them out when they get hurt as well, and point them in the right direc­tion as re­gards re­cu­per­a­tion and put them in touch with the right peo­ple,’’ he added.

Rac­ing has changed since Hard­ing part­nered his first win­ner over ob­sta­cles in 1992.

He didn’t have a coach then, or when he won the Queen Mother Cham­pion Chase aboard One Man in 1998.

Nor did he have a jockey coach when he landed the Ir­ish Grand Na­tional, cour­tesy of Granit D’Estru­val in 2004.

How­ever, he ad­mits that dur­ing the last five years or so of his rac­ing days, his time spent coach­ing oth­ers helped him to en­hance his own skills.

‘‘The last four or five years when I was rid­ing, I was coach­ing, so I got the me­chan­i­cal horse, which did me the world of good.

“I was us­ing it my­self as well as for the lads. Rac­ing has moved for­ward so much.

Pic­ture: Haydn West

Gran­ite D’Estru­val rid­den by Brian Hard­ing, wins the Pow­ers Gold La­bel Ir­ish Grand Na­tional at Fairy­house Race­course, Co Meath, Ire­land, Mon­day April 12, 2004, ahead of the Ir­ish Grand Na­tional.

Pic­ture: Gareth Chaney Collins

Ir­ish Grand Na­tional(L TO R) Owner Wal­ter J Gott and Jockey Brian Hard­ing cel­e­brate Granit D’Estru­val win at the Pow­ers Ir­ish Grand Na­tional at Fairy­house Race­course, Meath. Back in April 2004.

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