Jockey’s Valet, Roy Fowler, is the highly deserving recipient of a Lifetime in Racing Award, presented on Monday 3rd July at Pontefract Racecourse. Roy was presented with the award by Jockey Franny Norton in front of a group of weighing room colleagues and racegoers. The award recognises his dedication to the racing industry since 1964 and it is particularly fitting to present the award during Racing Staff Week, where the roles of all those behind-the-scenes in racing are celebrated.
Born in 1949 in Hull, Roy Fowler started his career in racing aged 15 when he went to work in Newmarket for Captain Ryan Jarvis, father of William Jarvis. Roy very quickly acquired the nickname ‘Flogger’ due to Harry Fowler playing the part in the TV series The Army Game and has always been known by the name since. In those days you served a five year apprenticeship with the trainer you started out with which was non-negotiable and Flogger was earning 8 shillings and 9 pence, the equivalent of about 44p a week nowadays. In his last year as an apprentice this increased to the equivalent of £5 per week.
Following the end of his five years Flogger moved back up north to work for Derek Bastiman, Robin Bastiman’s father at Wetherby before a spell with Clifford Watts before heading back to Newmarket to his old boss Ryan Jarvis for two years. This was a turbulent two years in Newmarket due to the 1975 stable lads strikes which were held to campaign for wage increases for stable staff and Flogger remembers these times well. He then spent a short spell with Arthur Stephenson before settling in Middleham with Chris Thornton and then as head lad for Graham Lockerbie before starting out on a jockey’s valeting career in the 1980s. He worked for 14 years for Paul Kingsley before setting up his own business.
Flogger still valets today but takes things a little easier, picking his favourite Northern meetings to work at with his son in law, Ashley, doing racecourses further afield.
Flogger has well and truly had a lifetime in racing and is a well-known and loved character both in and outside the weighing room. Outside of racing he used to love playing pool and was the stable lads pool champion three years running and also played for North Yorkshire. These days he says he can’t see the balls so has taken up poker which his now his passion as well as wife Nita!
Racing Welfare will be presenting a further three Lifetime in Racing Awards this summer at Catterick, Great Yarmouth and Newbury racecourses.