Track Manager, Stephen Berry, runs up 25 years in job

Monday 24 January 2011

The man who aims to ensure the goingís always good at Redcar Racecourse has clocked up 25 years working there. Itís still a family affair for track manager Stephen Berry, whose father John had the role before him. And to top it all, Stephenís brother, Phil, is his second in command.

 

But while there’s no racing at Redcar during the winter - which is probably just as well, considering the wintry weather we’ve endured - there’s still plenty of work to do, maintaining and improving the track in readiness for resumption in the spring.
The racecourse has 18 fixtures in 2011, starting on Monday, April 18. But Stephen, 42, is confident it will be a good season for the Redcar track - weather permitting.
He said: “Last year was a good one because we didn’t lose any meetings to the weather.
“With the recession, crowds have dwindled a little bit, but we’ve received a lot of favourable comments from the people who did come.
“Throughout my 25 years, the biggest low is always when you lose a meeting because of the weather. You work hard to prepare the track, then waterlogging ruins it all.”
Married to Beverley and with sons Ryan, 21, and Luke, 16, Redcar lad Stephen believes the racecourse is the town’s biggest asset.
A team of three full-time workers during the close season, supplemented by two more during the racing season, work hard to keep the track surface flat and safe, which can often be hectic when meetings quickly follow each other.
They also look after the course’s buildings, including the 36-year-old main grandstand and many others which date from the early 1900s.
But it’s the race surface which racecourses live or die by.
Stephen said: “Redcar has a good reputation for racing - a lot of horses come here in preparation for bigger races.
“Everyone says how well the track has ridden.”
Stephen was taken on as an apprentice by dad John in 1985 and soon, even though racing wasn’t necessarily in the family’s blood, he was hooked.
And he won’t complain if he’s still in the track manager’s saddle in another 25 years.
He smiled: “I’m 42 now, so it would take me up to retirement! But I haven’t really celebrated my first 25 years. I’m not one for a lot of fuss.”
Amy Fair, the racecourse’s general manager, said: “Stephen was born in Redcar and is fiercely proud and passionate about the racecourse and the area.
“Since he started back in the mid-1980s, the racecourse has taken some giant steps forward and the facilities have been improved no end.
“A large part of the responsibility for that has been Stephen’s great commitment.”
 

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