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22 August 2022

Rider, racehorse retrainer, trained dancer and now fledgling racing presenter, Hannah Baycroft squeezes in this and more besides as her growing twitter followers will know.

My name is Hannah and I’m a trained dancer and presenter, born in Swindon Wiltshire and currently living in North London with my two horses. I come from an agricultural background; my grandparents where famers at a time when Swindon was smaller and surrounded by plenty of countryside. The farm that was my mum’s family home is now Manor Farm pub in North Swindon. My Grandfather was an avid racefan and attended all the local racecourses, passing down his love of horseracing to my mum and now, me. 

My love starts with the horse. I grew up with horses. I guess where most people would have a dog in the garden, I had a fat pony with whom I’d often share my picnic. (I’ve just had a flash back of feeding him Wotsits but we’ll move on from that). I had two hobbies growing up: dancing on a Saturday and horse riding on a Sunday. These two activities shaped the path of my life and has led me onto my current career path. When I was 18, I went to performing arts college studying Musical Theatre and it was there I picked up the knack of presenting. 

My lightbulb moment

I had an 18-month stint presenting for Virgin Games as a chat show host and when attending the 2020 Cheltenham Festival just before the pandemic, I met Mike Cattermole and I mentioned to him I would love to work in the racing industry. From that moment it suddenly hit me, I really did want to build my presenting career in the racing industry and I was going to give it a shot. I set myself the challenge to combine my love of horses and racing with my career. I’ve always been very driven and eager to succeed, so I went for it.

During the pandemic I sought advice from numerous people, Ed Chamberlain kindly advised me and suggested I start creating a portfolio of content of some sort, so during the pandemic when work grounded to a halt, I reached out to people in the industry to ask if I could interview them and start building an online catalogue of interviews. My Grandma said I should get in touch with John Francome as he knew my Grandad, so I did exactly that and from there I began to build not only my interview portfolio but also my knowledge. 

As I now reach my second-year anniversary on Twitter, the world of racing twitter has helped me so much. Social media is such a powerful thing, and it has allowed me to meet new people, showcase my content and gain experience and knowledge in the industry. Many people ask me what my day job is, but it really is presenting, dancing, and performing, I didn’t fall into it I chose to follow my dreams and take freelancing to the extreme, no, really. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and I am forever grateful to all the kind faces in racing. 

Kind mentors everywhere

Owner of Starsports, Ben Keith has allowed me to stand alongside him and the on-course team to learn first-hand about bookmaking and the betting ring. Ben has been very encouraging with my goals and dreams. I’ve had experience presenting behind-the-scenes content on a raceday, most recently at the Brighton Festival. I was also eager to learn more about the breeding industry and Sally Anne Grassick kindly took me in and gave me a real insight into the world of breeding in Ireland. I was able to visit her beautiful family stud farm and the incredible Coolmore Stud. The British Racing School have been incredibly supportive of me, giving me a race riding lesson followed by an interview, which is up on my channel. Jim McGrath gave me one of my favourite days so far, teaching me about the two-year-olds at Newbury, which was a real insight. I’ve also started my own personal retraining project. I picked up a horse straight from the track, the eight-year-old mare Violets Lad’s who was in training with Brett Johnson. I’ll be retraining Violet and documenting my experience, incorporating other aspects of the industry and working with several equine brands over on my YouTube channel @racingwithhannah. I’m so thankful for all of the help I have received from this wonderful industry so far. 

Everyone’s sport

Despite what some may say, there are ways to work in all parts of the industry. I’ve recently learnt about Racing Together and the good they bring to the industry through promoting community engagement. I truly believe that this sport is for everyone. I’m only 26, so I have my whole life ahead of me and I’m looking forward to what the future holds. If you want something badly enough it can happen, but you can’t give up is my motto. Things won’t be handed to you on a plate; you have to work out how to overcome the hurdles and ignore the negative thoughts – this is something you’re taught in performing college, that and to deal with the rollercoaster of being self-employed: gosh, I could write an essay on that. 

Charity race, here I come 

One thing I love about horseracing, there really is something for everyone. Horses, fashion, betting, breeding, form and so on; it’s fantastic and so much to learn. I feel it’s important that when you want to do something for a living you should learn as much as you can about it. When I was younger, if the racing was on it would be to watch the horses, same as when going to Point-to-Point meetings.

It’s now my quest to find out more about the sport from a different perspective. Now, I’ll never be a jockey: I don’t like the phrases ‘can’t, never, won’t’ but let’s be realistic here, it’s a no on the jockey front. However, something I have set my sights on is to ride in a charity race. Not only will I learn what it takes to train for a race, ride out regularly for a Flat yard and see the horses at home, but I would be doing it for a good cause. I’d like to raise money for an Equine Welfare charity, hopefully next year. 

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