National Racehorse Week: Why top trainers across the UK are opening their stable doors to the public

·3-min read

Top trainers across the country are throwing open their stable doors to the public for the first time ever as part of National Racehorse Week.

The initiative is the brainchild of Gloucestershire-based trainer Richard Phillips and will see more than 140 trainers across England, Scotland and Wales take part.

The original plan was to have a National Racehorse Day but such was the public appetite that it quickly changed to a week-long event.

It runs from 12-19 September, and people can book slots online to visit their local stables and see the operation first-hand.

"The racehorse has a great life and I wanted to organise something to show people that," Mr Phillips, who trains 30 racehorses at his yard near Moreton-in-Marsh, told Sky News.

"It's a celebration of the racehorse. This is a great sport and industry with so many great people in it, caring for these wonderful animals 24/7. I see this as an opportunity to showcase all that is good about British racing. The country should be rightly proud of it, we certainly are."

Racing was hit hard by the pandemic, with hundreds of millions of pounds lost in revenue due to COVID.

The event gets under way just as Irish trainer Gordon Elliott returns to the sport after serving a six-month suspension for sitting on a racehorse that had died from natural causes while training on his gallops in County Meath.

A photograph of the incident went viral and caused outrage earlier this year. Many in racing see this week as their opportunity to showcase just how well looked after racehorses are.

Former Love Island contestant Chris Hughes is an amateur jockey who regularly rides and is backing the campaign.

"I just love everything the animals give to us as human beings," he told Sky News. "What I get back from horses is what a lot of people at home get from their dogs or pets. They are amazing animals, they're so powerful, they are machines.

"They have so much personality. What I love is that every single horse is loved, from the owner to the trainer to the jockey. They are loved."

Grace Muir founded The HEROS Charity near Wantage in Oxfordshire in 2006 to rehome and retrain ex-racehorses and she too is supporting National Racehorse Week.

She said: "The thoroughbred racehorse is just such an intelligent animal, they can learn a new skill very quickly. Some of them learn dressage, some of them go showjumping and some of them are just brilliant with the special needs children who come here.

"I saw there was a use for these horses after their racing days are over. About 30 years ago there wasn't so many to deal with, but I came up with this idea of retraining them to do another job because the breed is so versatile and the horses are so quick to learn another skill."

The hope is that National Racehorse Week will become an annual event allowing thousands of people to visit professional trainers and see for themselves how much work and care goes into making British racing the best in the world.

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