it's my job: The Exercise Rider (ep1)

Published on January 1, 2023

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The series premiere of “It’s My Job” goes behind the scenes at Keeneland Race Course with Damien Rock, one of the primary exercise riders for trainer Charles Lopresti.

A native of Ireland, Rock is a graduate of the Racing Academy and Centre of Education at The Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland. He worked as an apprentice jockey for three years after graduating from the jockey school, winning six races from 113 mounts for trainer Michael Grassick.

Rock has since worked almost exclusively as an exercise rider in Ireland, Dubai, and the U.S., for such prominent trainers as Shug McGaughey, Christophe Clement, Erwin Sharpay, and Leo O’Brien. He started with Lopresti in 2011 and is the regular rider of the stable’s leading runner, Grade 1 winner and 2012 Ben Ali Stakes (G3) winner Wise Dan.

Rock said he “liked the idea” of appearing on “It’s My Job” from the moment Lopresti suggested the 31-year-old Irishman to appear in the series that focuses on jobs in the Thoroughbred industry.

“Maybe I said, ‘What am I getting myself into here?’ but then when you guys explained what you were actually doing I thought it was really cool,” Rock said. “We [workers in the stable area] don’t get as much appreciation for what we do. Usually you just see the spotlight on the horses, so to show what we’re all doing on a daily basis I thought was a great idea.”

Rock went about his daily duties with ease during multiple shoots in mid-March and early April, opening up about the highs and lows of working as an exercise rider and talking about the benefits of working year-round for Lopresti compared to his days as a jockey or as a freelance exercise rider.

“At first I was thinking a little about the microphone and the camera, but as the morning went on I didn’t even realize you guys were there,” Rock said. “What really helped was when I got on with you two guys, it was like hanging out with two new friends more than anything. That made it easy to forget about the camera.

“And I’m working, too, I’m staying busy and it’s what I do every day. I didn’t have to worry about changing or doing something I don’t normally do.”

“Seeing the finished product was really cool. It all looks true and is all about what we do on the backside, getting these horses ready to race. I never thought about it much, but it is my job, so ‘It’s My Job’ is a good name. You don’t think about it too often, but now seeing it on video and looking back at what we do makes me think about how much I really love it.”

it's my job: The Exercise Rider (ep1)

it's my job: The Exercise Rider (ep1).

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