The Racing fraternity are like an old fashioned family, sticking together through thick and thin. And, like most families we might have a few playground scrapes, petty jealousies and ‘told you so’ moments but at the heart of the “racing family” you will find tough, resilient, loving and loyal, if occasionally battle weary members, whose respect for the wider family is palpable. When tragedy struck at Haydock on Friday it struck out at everyone.
“Stephen Yarborough” has been a popular and highly respected stalls handler for about thirty years. He was team leader and took his responsibilities very seriously. Kind, quiet and good at his job and, as George said “a nicer man you will never meet” . He “loaded” George many times in the gates before George retired.
The stalls handlers are racings “unsung heroes” they go about their (very tough) job quietly and are barely noticed, but without them where would racing be? They handle upwards of half a tonne of racehorse with care, precision, strength and patience and they themselves are well aware of the dangers that go with their job. But no one ever imagined a stalls handler might be killed by the stalls themselves.
The jockeys came out in force after this terrible tragedy and are all understandably devastated, stalls handlers work very closely with the boys and girls who wear the silks, making sure they are in the right stalls, at the right time in one piece and when a jockey gets in trouble with a naughty one, those guys pile in to help without a thought for their own safety and, trust me when I say a race horse, with a rider in a small metal starting stall, going ballistic is not somewhere you want to be .
Jockeys paid their respects to Stephen Yarborough on Saturday evening