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07 November 2023

Record-breaking year three for National Racehorse Week

  • 209 events took place with more than 15,000 places made available to the public up and down the country
  • 60 additional community and school events were delivered across the week, giving over 3,000 young people and individuals the chance to meet a racehorse and learn more about racing
  • 60% of people were new to racing or not regular racegoers
  • Participation from 117 trainers, studs, and retraining and rehoming centres
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Back for a third year, National Racehorse Week kicked off in September with a record number of open days and community events. The annual celebration of the racehorse saw over 15,000 free places made available with yards up and down the country opening their doors for the public to come and experience a day in the life of a racehorse.

From training facilities and studs, to aftercare and rehoming centres, 209 different events took place showcasing the care and attention racehorses receive every day. Open day events were of all sizes, from the more bespoke and intimate experiences at yards like Hughie Morrison’s for 30 people through to carnival-like events for over 700 people at Tim Vaughn’s yard in Cowbridge.

The week provided a platform to create a lasting impact on those who are not familiar with racing or who don’t have the opportunity to get close to a horse in everyday life. In research undertaken after the week had finished, 94% of people said the experience had left them with a better understanding about and a positive impression of welfare. And 92% of attendees who were new to racing said their opinion had been positively changed about the lives racehorses lead.

Community Engagement and Education

After the success of last year’s pilot, community outreach efforts were ramped up significantly. A total of 60 dedicated events took place across the country, a 300% uplift compared to 2022. Community events were supported by Racing Together and Racing to School with more than 3,000 people from schools, charities, urban equestrian centres and community groups getting involved with behind-the-scenes access to racing facilities, some for the first time. And where people were not able to attend a yard visit, racehorses were taken to them.

Events included:

  • Paul Nicholls hosted a special visit for Dame Kelly Homes Trust beneficiaries, NHS and Emergency Service workers
  • Ian Williams hosted members of the RMF Group, an organisation that offer industry focused training courses to ex-offenders, veterans, the homeless, and residents who are long-term unemployed
  • Jo Foster took racehorse Sigurd to eight community events including schools, care homes and to charities like Mind and dementia groups
  • Aftercare centres including New Beginnings, HEROS, BTRC, Greatwood and Yorkshire retraining and rehoming centre took their retired racehorse ambassadors out to schools and care homes
  • Dan Skelton and Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero hosted children with serious illnesses from the Barrie Well’s Trust Box4Kids initiative
  • Godolphin, Ben Case and Dave Loughnane hosted urban equestrian centres including Summerfield Stables from Birmingham, Park Lane Stables from London, and Park Palace Ponies from Liverpool.

Rod Street, CEO Great British Racing, commented, “National Racehorse Week creates a unique opportunity for the British Racing industry to unite and showcase to the public the high levels of care that our equine stars receive throughout their entire lives. It also allows racing to open its doors and welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to experience the joy of getting close to a racehorse.

“There are so many highlights from the week, but the ones that stand out for me include the significant increase in young people attending open days this year, especially those aged between 10-14 years, and the impact we had on visitors. Our research shows that 94% of people who came to an open day now have a positive impression of equine welfare, and 92% of those who were new to racing or not regular racegoers said their opinion had been positively changed by the experience. This shows the power of what racing can achieve when it comes together.

“We must thank everyone involved in this special week for showing off the very best of British racing and hopefully helping to inspire a new generation of racing fans.”

Trainer, Andy Irvine, welcomed 20 people from Mind Charity in a special community event as well as over 150 members of the public at his open day in Sussex. He remarked, “We absolutely loved our open day and our community event. Everyone who turned up said how much fun they had, how much they learned and how friendly everyone is. We really found it a great boost to morale for the whole team. As a small yard, all of this is very important to promote all that we do, the wonderful care the horses get and the huge therapeutic effect they can have on people in our community.”

Paul Johnson, Chief Executive of the National Trainers Federation which supported the week said, “We had a great response from trainers this year with even more getting involved to host events. It’s so important for yards to open their doors and engage with their local communities and beyond.

“At its core, National Racehorse Week supports our ongoing efforts to show the public the incredible care horses in training receive. But it achieves so much more. 42 trainers helped raise money for local charities, and three quarters of them promoted their racing clubs and syndicates with half of them already receiving follow-up interest. And some trainers had enquiries about jobs and work experience opportunities. This brilliant platform is essential for racing on so many levels, and I look forward to seeing it grow year-on-year.”

National Racehorse Week took place 9-17 September. The initiative is run by Great British Racing (GBR) and was funded by GBR along with the Racing Foundation and Horserace Betting Levy Board. For 2023, supporting partners included Godolphin, the Jockey Club, Arena Racing Company, Japan Racing Association, Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charity Trust, NAF and Large Independent Racecourses. Community and schools’ activities were supported by Racing to School and Racing Together. The event is supported by the National Trainers Federation and was the original idea of trainer Richard Phillips. National Racehorse Week forms a key part of the sport’s welfare strategy ‘A Life Well Lived’, overseen by the Horse Welfare Board.

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