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Harris signs off from Don for Coventry.

WIMBLEDON racing manager Simon Harris officiates for the last time at the track tonight before leaving London to start his new job at Coventry on Monday. The 10.30pm contest marks the end of a ten-year Wimbledon stint and, indeed, the culmination of a 28-year spell with the GRA, writes Richard Birch.

Harris said yesterday: "I've been very touched by all the messages of goodwill received over the last three weeks. An awful lot of people - trainers, owners, bookmakers, punters and people who work at the stadium - have wished me well.

"It means a great deal when so many nice people wish you well because, essentially, you're doing a job that can be unpopular. It makes it that little bit more difficult to go.

"Having said that, I start first thing Monday morning at Coventry, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge. Obviously, there's lots to do. Some trainers have been provisionally recruited and work on the track is progressing well, but it's a long process.

"After all, we're starting from scratch. Every dog will need three trials, and one of my first jobs will be to set the racing office up."

Harris, who was presented with a cut-glass decanter at Thursday's meeting to mark nearly three decades of service with the GRA, returns to his Midlands roots sad to leave, but looking forward to the future.

"One thing I won't miss is the ludicrous London traffic," he said. "There's nothing more of a relief than standing in the car park on a big open-race night to see all the trainers safely here. It took some of our trainers two hours to travel ten miles for Wednesday morning's trials session. It's always a big headache."

Harris's final message to Wimbledon punters is to follow Rhincrew Seagal, a pup who remains unbeaten in three races.

"He's made a tremendous impression, and I've no doubt he'll be decent open-class next year," he said. "And look no further than Droopys Shearer for the Derby. I really do think he's exceptional.

"Winning the Derby is as much about the trainer as the dog, and Ted Soppitt has the ideal temperament for it - he's a top-class trainer, and Droopys Shearer is the dog who can do it for him."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 29, 2003
Words:375
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