The racing-yard manager: ‘The hours sometimes get on top of you, but when you get the winners, it’s all worthwhile’

A cabinetmarker by trade, Richard Leadley followed his love of horses to his current profession. Tessa Waugh reports, portrait by Richard Cannon.

I had always loved horses, but I’m a cabinetmaker by trade,’ admits Richard Leadley, yard manager for National Hunt trainer Charlie Longsdon.

When the company Mr Leadley worked for folded, he did a National Stud training course in Newmarket and has no regrets about the change of course.

‘I love the routine, the buzz of seeing the horses run,’ he enthuses. ‘The hours sometimes get on top of you, but when you get the winners, it’s all worthwhile.’

Mr Leadley has worked for the trainer at his Chipping Norton base for five seasons, with a year out as an assistant trainer in America. ‘The horses have only just come in, so we’re quieter at the moment,’ he explains.

At the yard’s busiest time in the winter, there are 70 or 80 horses there and up to 15 members of staff.

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Living National Treasure - Racing-yard manager

Richard Leadley with Loose Chips. Photography by Richard Cannon.

During the racing season, Mr Leadley starts work at 6am and mucks out before the first lot heads out at 7am.

‘I’m on the yard most of the time and live in a flat above it. We do a full muck-out every morning and put in fresh straw every day.

‘Then, we do the water, laundry, hay and sweep the yards. It’s the same routine every day except for Sunday, when the horses get a day off and we put them out and bring them in again in the evening.’

Mr Leadley doesn’t often get involved in riding out—Loose Chips (right) is the only horse in the yard that he’ll ride and he was delighted when the 12-year-old bay gelding won at Sandown in a veteran final with his friend Graham Watters in the saddle.

‘Graham and I went to America at the same time and he won just before we left,’ he recalls.

For more information about Richard’s yard, visit