An Interview with Luke Harvey: jockey, trainer and television personality.
Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Born in Devon into a large family, Luke left school at sixteen and went straight to work for Captain Tim Forster. He started riding in point-to-points and had his first winner as a conditional at Taunton on 1984. The same year, he rode a winner at the Festival at only twenty, and a Welsh Grand National on Cool Ground in 1990. Retiring from riding in 1999, Luke had already started working for the Racing Channel in 1998 and on Radio 5 Live. These led to his roles presenting on At The Races and ITV Racing. He won the accolade of Racing Broadcaster of the Year in 2018 and Tweets regularly from @LegLockLuke. He lives in Kingston Lisle, situated six miles outside Lambourn, and is a huge advocate of ‘pointing. Luke’s happy-go-lucky demeanour and sense of fun is unmistakable.
How do you reflect on your career as a jockey?
Barney Curley said I was an under-achiever, but I rode some nice winners, so I think I overachieved. Early on, everyone thinks they’re going to be champion jockey but when I wasn’t, I simply enjoyed it. I did something I loved and made a living out of it – I was lucky.
Describe your ideal Saturday night out:
Since starting in racing aged 16, I’ve gone out every single night and I have simple tastes. This includes a quiet night in my local The Blowing Stone in Kingston Lisle with lots of different people, not all racing folk, but gamekeepers to farmers – just anyone.
How do you reflect on your time working on the ITV coverage?
In my heart of hearts, I was disappointed I was never asked to be on Channel 4 Racing. When ITV took over, I was hopeful and delighted when it happened. It has given me a wider reach to the public as well as racing people. I never try to be false, I’m just me.
What is your favourite meeting of the season?
I’m lucky to do all the top Flat and Jump meetings but my favourites are Glorious Goodwood, Aintree and Fakenham, if I lived nearer and it wasn’t four hours away.
How has racing changed over the years and has it been for the better?
Everything in life has changed – in pubs, basket meals of chicken and chips are now steak on a plate. Change is good – if you do the same thing every day, then nothing will ever change.
Describe your typical race day:
Every morning, my alarm goes off at 05:02, I ride out before my TV work. After riding out, I immediately go racing, always in a rush. Thanks to Jason Weaver, I learnt to permanently look at form. I need to know facts and figures, but my knowledge of horses helps too.
What do you love about point-to-pointing?
I enjoy training my ‘pointers and leading them up – it’s just fun, but I like for them to win as well.
Which racehorses will you never forget?
The first horse I ever looked after in my first job in racing – Lefrak City, he was only 15.2hh so was tiny and was useless over hurdles but won a Tinglecreek.
And Nanow, who was an old horse I had as a ‘pointer – my mum was ill and the last time she was well enough to go racing, he won at Towcester.
What is the best advice you were given?
My dad said if I called the yard broom Sir then I couldn’t go wrong – meaning politeness costs nothing.
What is the best advice you can give?
It doesn’t matter what ability or aspirations you have, always be positive and work hard, you’ll rise up the ladder. Be the best you can be at everything you do.