Today marks the opening day of Britain’s first-ever National Racehorse Week, taking place 12th-19th September.
To kick off a week’s worth of celebrations, 55 racing yards opened their doors across the country today, including the pre-existing open days at two of racing’s epicentres – Malton and Epsom.
Throughout the week 131 trainers are opening their yards and over 10,000 members of public are expected to attend an open day to witness first-hand the care, love and attention that goes into racing’s incredible horses.
Organised by Great British Racing and the National Trainers Federation, and kindly supported by the Racing Foundation and the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, visitors who attended the first day of a week’s worth of events were able to experience a day in the life of a racehorse.
Yards hosted behind-the-scenes tours of the facilities, giving visitors and families the opportunity to meet the horses themselves and the dedicated support team that care for them 365 days a year.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Horseracing is part of the rich fabric of British culture and an integral part of our rural economy and we were delighted to have Royal Ascot as one of our Events Research Programme pilots this summer that paved the way for reopening.”
“At the heart of the sport are the thoroughbred racehorses themselves and it is wonderful that members of the public will be able to visit racing yards in their communities.”
“We are absolutely committed to maintaining our high animal welfare standards so this will be a fantastic opportunity for the general public to see the dedicated care that goes into looking after these magnificent animals.”
TV star and ITV Racing Presenter Chris Hughes who is an ambassador for National Racehorse Week and was at Phillips’ open day today said, “it has been brilliant to be able to show people at the yard today just how much care goes into looking after racehorses.”
“They really are treated amazingly, with dedicated staff and a whole team around them to make sure that they are in the best possible health.”
“Everyone working in the sport is passionate about providing the best possible care we can to the horses we all adore and I am really proud of the fact that so many members of the public have been able to see that today.”
Trainer Richard Phillips, who originally came up with the idea of a nationwide event, also welcomed members of the public to a special church service held at his Adlestrop Stables, which included a special blessing for the racehorses at the yard.
Other activities held across the country included a wide range of welfare related demonstrations including water treadmills and hydrotherapy, horse physiotherapy and chiropody, and a chance to see the horses taking their daily exercise on the gallops.
Younger children in attendance were also kept entertained with free activity booklets and fact sheets about racehorses, kindly provided by Weatherby’s. Download the kids’ activities here.
Today marks the start of a week’s worth of celebrations, which includes a further 75 yards opening their doors to the public, culminating in the Henry Cecil Open Weekend in Newmarket (18th – 19th September), home to almost 3,000 racehorses.
For those unable to attend in person, there will also be a series of Virtual Events taking place 13th -17th September which will give an insight into additional areas of the sport such as a day in the life of a racing groom; getting horses fit for the races and activities that racehorses go onto to participate in after retirement.
Its set to a fantastic week and has the support of many inside and outside of racing. Here’s Dame Judi Dench, who loves racing and racehorses, giving her full support for National Racehorse Week.