Nadia Powell, General Manager of Market Rasen Racecourse, explains how this popular Jump racing venue has embraced being at the heart of its local community.
Market Rasen is very much a local facility. Founded in 1924 in the heart of the Lincolnshire town it has been part of Jockey Club Racecourses since the 1960s. When I joined the team three years ago, I wanted to build up the community awareness, ensuring local people felt ownership of ‘their racecourse’.
We have gone some way, with increased engagement and presence at schools; the introduction of the Market Rasen Racecourse Community Programme and race-day initiatives, which reach out to the local community so they can experience a day at the races.
For the recent Racing Together Community Day we invited residents of nursing and residential homes for a day at the races. The uptake and feedback were both fantastic with residents and their families having the opportunity to enjoy a day out together, some of whom had never been racing before.
We held ‘Horseplay Raceday’ on a Sunday in May, which was created to engage children and families by celebrating everything about the horse, combined with educational and fun activities. We sent out our racecourse mascot Gerald to visit all local schools to promote the day and the offers available to families. The day was a roaring success with a crowd 40 per cent up on 2017.
Next, we will be working to promote our new charity of the year, KIDS, which provides support services to disabled children, young people and their families. Together we will offer leisure days out for families during summer fixtures which showcase great racing and fun.
People always ask me how I got into racing. The answer: I was technically riding out before I was even born, as my mother was an assistant trainer and kept work-riding until she was about eight months pregnant!
Being brought up in a racing yard was certainly varied. Holidays were a myth. Going away from home meant driving up and down the country with overnight stays in the horse lorry – one day it could be at Aintree, the next in the graveyard next to Redcar. Whilst it wasn’t a conventional upbringing, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I was exposed to a world of beautiful, exceptionally well-cared for horses.
After leaving home, I was a nurse for five years before the racing itch returned and I joined Nottingham Racecourse. Ten years later and I am General Manager at one of my favourite racecourses – my local track. I am not only incredibly lucky to work within an industry I adore but I also work for The Jockey Club, the largest commercial group in Britain’s second-biggest spectator sport.