Your guide to National Racehorse Week
National Racehorse Week is a nationwide annual celebration of the racehorse and a chance to see first-hand the love, care and attention that goes into looking after them
The first of its kind, National Racehorse Week will see over 100 trainers from across the country open the doors to their yards in a nationwide celebration of the racehorse and will include existing open days at some of British racing’s most important training centres including the Malton and Epsom Open days on the opening weekend (12 September) and the Henry Cecil Open Weekend in Newmarket (18-19 September).
Chris Hughes (pictured), who himself often rides racehorses at trainer Jonjo O’Neill’s yard and frequently features his favourite horse, Annie Mc, on his social media channels said, “As someone who loves racing, I’m so excited that everyone will have the chance to go behind the scenes at a racing yard near them and see the wonderful care that horses receive.
“Racehorses are like family to the people that look after them every single day of the year and it will be brilliant for members of the public to meet their local equine stars, find out how they are looked after, chat to staff and see various different elements of a horse’s training regime – from being out on the gallops, to seeing the physio and even taking a dip in an equine swimming pool!”
With new stables being added all the time, each of the individual yards that is opening up is listed on the nationalracehorseweek.uk website where a postcode search allows visitors to find their nearest open yard and sign up to attend for free.
Activities will vary from yard to yard and will include things such as meeting racehorses and those that have also retired; having a tour of the facilities; seeing the horses exercising on the gallops, treadmills and swimming pools; welfare demonstrations such as horse physio and farrier demonstrations (putting on a horse’s shoes!) as well as offering light refreshments.
One of those looking forward to welcoming members of the public to his yard is trainer Richard Phillips (pictured) who originally came up with the idea of National Racehorse Week. He said, “National Racehorse Week is a brilliant opportunity for everyone in racing to come together through their common love for the racehorse and provide a wonderful insight into the world of racing.
“Horses are our heroes, and we are looking forward to opening our doors and offering a big-hearted welcome to everyone. So much love and care goes into looking after our horses and we can’t wait for this nationwide celebration of the racehorse.”
Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Award Finalist and Rider/Groom Faisal said: “Every racehorse is different and has its own personality, part of the fun of working with them is getting to know their cheeky ways.
“I love that National Racehorse Week gives us a chance to show them off at home and people can get to meet them for themselves”.
Trainer Rebecca Menzies and her team in Sedgefield will also be welcoming people to her yard. She said: “I am so proud of the dedication and care that my team take in looking after and preparing our horses every single day of the year. Being able to show the public what goes on behind the scenes is a fantastic idea.”
Among featured events during the week are:
See racehorses honing their skills. Racehorses regularly need to practice all the skills they need on the racecourse, whether that be jumping or learning a particular way of racing to optimise performance. Schooling over jumps, working on different surfaces and environments are all an important part of a racehorse training routine that help the horse to successfully adjust to different situations at the racecourse. It also adds variety to their work and gives them mental stimulation.
See fitness training
Just like any human athlete, fitness is imperative in preparing the racehorse for the track and ensuring they are in the best of health. There are many parts to keeping a racehorse fit, so during your visit you may get the chance to see the horses on the gallops, taking a restorative swim, warming up/down on the horse walker, or even doing a few reps on an equestrian treadmill.
Meet the people who look after a racehorse’s hooves, keeping them in the best condition and shoeing them ready for every race. See a racehorse having its hooves trimmed and being shod. Take the chance to ask questions to the experts in equine foot care. They are an essential part of maintaining a racehorse’s health.
Horses at home in the yard
An important part of any racehorse’s routine is down time and the ‘chance to be a horse’. Racehorses will have a freshly made bed every day and often enjoy a hack or time in the field which is where they all have the opportunity to put their feet up and enjoy a bit of time off.
Stable staff work hard to ensure that racehorses are kept in clean, safe environments where the horses can relax and enjoy being pampered. You will have a chance to see how a stable gets prepared, how horses get looked after in the stable, and what fun they have being treated to snacks by their favourite person who looks after them.
Veterinary care demonstrations
Ensuring that racehorses are in the best health is an absolute priority. There are teams of people dedicated to making sure that racehorses receive the best veterinary care going. Some of the demonstrations you may see on the day are routine vet checks, physiotherapy, the horse solarium and equine dentistry.
You may well get to watch a vet do a routine check on a racehorse, a dental examination, or even a physio demo and have the chance to ask them interesting questions.