The Staff

Whilst Mick's name is attached to any success associated with West Ilsley Stables, the staff are responsible for the real hard graft. From the depths of bitter winter to the frenetic high summer, they are the ones at the sharp end who provide and care for the horses and provide The Boss with feedback on every intimate detail.

There are over sixty staff in all with the vast majority living on site, meaning that the horses are always the focus of attention.

Such a situation also means that there is a very close knit community at West Ilsley. This can lead to arguments aplenty, but with such a mix of personalities and nationalities - the hallmark of the racing industry today, the team ethic always shines through.

The staff have their own profiles below. Click on the photos and their souls are laid bare in the staff questionnaire. Rest assured, the opening descriptions are entirely accurate.

Staff - Video
Mick Channon, Trainer
Mick Channon came from relative obscurity, with many people wishing he'd have stayed there. Modest, polite and considerate, he considers himself to be one of the most mild mannered men in his kitchen, where he indulges himself in his passion for flower pressing and perfecting blancmange.
Gill Hedley, Finance Director
Gill is not to be messed with and we certainly wouldn't say anything flippant or off hand about her, mainly due to the fact that she sorts out everyone's wages. When she's not at work, Gill spends her time travelling to and from work.
Keith Evans, Assistant Trainer
Mick's scrawny legged right hand man continues to watch his weight in order to maintain his so far unblemished record of winning every single gallop he's involved in. Considering Keith has been at West Ilsley since 1968, that's a terrific feat. To be fair, Keith is not only a vital member at the head of the Team, he's also a shining example of our flourishing equal opportunity scheme. Keith is Welsh.
Brian O'Neil, Morale Officer
Brian is Mick's best mate and a common sight around the yard. Although not a member of staff, he's often responsible for waking Mick up at four in the morning - washing cars, raking the driveway and basically being very useful. A terrace hero in the 1960's at Burnley (the photo pictures him gliding past George Best), he struck up his great rapport with MRC at Southampton where he'd terrorise anyone who dared to boot Mick and threaten the team's win bonus. His joint ownership of Cathy Jane in 1972 began Mick's involvement in horseracing.
Michael Channon Jnr, Assistant Trainer
Most of Michael's responsibilities revolve around racing, as Mick thought the only way to give his eldest son's life any real purpose was to get him as far away from West Ilsley as possible. As the "Public Face" of the yard on racedays, perhaps his was an appointment made in haste rather than wisdom. Hardly a looker, Michael is a big fan of laminated flooring.
Rob Storton, Head Lad
Head Lad Rob Storton is a much loved figure around West Ilsley. Having received a mention in the Domesday Survey, Rob knows everything about the place and is credited with teaching both Major Hern and Henry VIII to ride.
Jon Dennis, Head Lad
A former jockey, Jon decided to give up his blossoming riding career at West Ilsley and ran away to join the circus in order to fulfil a lifetime ambition. However, after a quite dreadful incident involving gravity, young Dennis packed his bags and spent several years as a fugitive, hiding under a horse box at Gerard Butler's Hollywood Studios. This in turn led to the infamous blackmail plot that forced Jon and his entire family to move back to West Ilsley. Mick still has the photos.
Brian Watson, Head Lad
Prior to his arrival at West Ilsley, Brian had been on a three year expedition to the South Pole where he completed his ground-breaking research into the effect of severe temperature on Kit Kats and Mars Bars. After a return to his native Scotland and several thousand pounds worth of dental treatment, he got on his skateboard and joined the West Ilsley team only three months late.
Paul Morkan, Pupil Assistant
Paul arrived from Ireland via Australia where he worked for our former Assistant Mark Wallace. Surly, ignorant, dreadful at cricket and a boorish drunk, Paul fitted in well with both Mark and the Sydney locals. He only arrived in West Berkshire due to Wallace's insistence that we, "Either take him, or I'm coming back." It was therefore an easy decision to make and we're far happier to have Paul as a part of the team.
Natalie Everall, Head Lass
Natalie hails from Herefordshire and it doesn't half notice. A keen fan of tractors and a collector of speech impediments, Natalie is looking forward to marrying a member of her family and owning a bull.
Mark Harrison, Estate Manager
Mark is in the fortunate position of listening to Mick's detailed instructions of how he wants his grass to look every day. A brilliantly patient individual, Mark refused the complimentary psychiatric treatment that we offer to every member of staff that spend ten years in employment at West Ilsley. You don't have to be mad to work here etc. etc. etc.........
Andy Larkin, Travelling Head Lad
Lesley White and Andy Larkin - the longest serving members of staff, should have been committed long ago. Lesley is far too disinterested to fill out the questionnaire so we've left it to "Pop" Larkin to express the sheer joy that travelling in a lorry entails. Whilst Lesley is a connoisseur of fine wines and methylated spirits, Andy puts most of his energy into flattening a sheet of corrugated iron with a hammer in his back garden.
Vinnie Mell, Yardman
'Danger' is Vinne's middle name. Probably. It's a bit confusing really as his real name is Steve but he's called Vinnie for short, so his middle name could be anything. Anyway, when he's not defying death bungee jumping and wrestling reptiles like those big dragon things on the Galapagos Islands he's goading the Boss about Leeds United's 7-1 mauling of Southampton in 1972. Now that's danger.
Janet Evans, Stable Lass/ Travelling Lass
Janet is the far better half of Mick's right hand man Keith Evans. There's no doubting that this often leads to friction, with jealousy, pettiness and no little back-stabbing a large part of the equation. Still, those are Mick's issues - Janet's alright.
Nicola Topper, Stable Lass/ Travelling Lass
Nicola is one of the least popular members of staff, having won last season's "Five to Follow" competition. Formerly a socialist, Miss Topper is now a raving capitalist, money obsessed and rabidly right wing. That's what money can do to a nice girl from Cheltenham.
Lord Ilsley, Resident Blogger
Based at Ilsley Manor, Lord Ilsley was born and bred on the Estate and refuses to leave despite Mick's continual attempts to prize him out of his vast abode. He's even tried cheese, but to no avail. Disliked, resented and never listened to, Lord Ilsley was the most suitable candidate to contribute to the website's Blog. Lucid, eccentric and specialising in the absurd, it's a pointless column that really isn't worth anyone's time or attention.
Wilsley News, Latest News Editor
Appointed late in 2009, Wilsley News began his career as a freelance journalist with the Brightwalton Gazette before moving on to cover the Kingston Lisle scene from 2003 up until 2008. After Luke Harvey relinquished the licence on the Blowing Stone Pub however, news stories and scandalous allegations very much dried up, leading to Wilsley entering rehab for an 18 month period of solitude and contemplation. Full time employment at West Ilsley represents the end of Wilsley's 'Road to Damascus'.
Sue Harding, Racing Secretary (Departed in 2012)
Born in Cork, but scared to admit it, "Our Susan" is the friendly face that welcomes owners to West Ilsley upon their arrival. When she isn't making entries and trying to placate Mick, Sue enjoys combining her time away from the desk between legalised violence and swearing.
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