Horse Racing

National Racehorse Week: Equine Ambassadors To Visit 34 Locations Across Britain

Foster said, “Sigurd is an incredible horse – he competes on the racecourse, but also regularly visits schools and residential homes, which has become second nature to him. I’ve never known a horse so able to relax and genuinely relate to people, from children with special needs, to older people in wheelchairs.

From Sept. 10-18, 2022, in an experience like no other, over 180 venues across the country, including training yards, studs and retraining centers, will open their doors to the public to show what life as a racehorse is really like.

As part of the initiative that invites 12,000 members of the public to meet a racehorse, 34 community events will take place, that will include engaging with 1,000 school pupils as well as racehorses visiting care homes.

Throughout the week, the industry aims to bring racing closer to people of all ages and backgrounds, giving those, particularly in city locations, the chance to get up close with a horse, sometimes for the very first time. The community visits will give those who may not have the chance to visit a venue the opportunity to meet a racehorse, to learn about the racing industry and the wonderful lives current and retired racehorses lead.

The 34 community events include:

  • 14 school visits – these include 11 schools visiting racing yards in person, organized by Racing to School and National Racehorse Week, and three schools who will receive a special in-school visit from a local racehorse
  • Six charity visits – three racing yards will host visits from local autism support groups via Autism in Racing, while Emma Lavelle, along with James Fanshawe and the British Racing School, will also host visits from seriously ill children as part of the brilliant Barrie Wells Trust’s initiative, Box4Kids
  • Five care home visits – former and current racehorses will visit care home residents in Wiltshire, Lancashire, and West Yorkshire
  • One NHS/emergency workers visit via Blue Light Tickets – 12-time Champion Trainer, Paul Nicholls, will host an open morning for NHS and emergency service workers
  • Seven urban equestrian centers and community groups – these include Ebony Horse Club, Urban Equestrian Academy, Park Lane Stables and more
  • One village visit – Paul Webber will take a racehorse to meet village residents in Cropredy, near Banbury

Research commissioned by Great British Racing to support the launch of National Racehorse Week has revealed a disconnect with animals and the countryside among the UK’s city dwellers, including the startling finding that 26% of 12-40 year olds have never seen, or can’t remember seeing, a horse in real life. 18-24 year olds are the least likely age group to have seen a horse ‘in person’, with 44% having never had an equine encounter.

Coming into close contact with a horse is also something that many of those surveyed have never experienced. 36% could not recall ever being physically close to a horse (within two metres) and over a third (34%) have never touched one. Almost one in three (30%) of 12-17 year olds surveyed have gone through life without ever coming into physical contact with a horse.

This may be explained by the fact that people in cities aren’t venturing into the countryside frequently. Almost half (46%) of people surveyed had not visited the countryside in the last year, while almost one in ten (9%) have either never visited, or can’t remember ever visiting, despite 59% saying they would like to visit more often.

There is clearly an appetite among people to remedy the situation: 48% of those surveyed said they would like to have contact with animals more regularly (rising to 55% of 12-17 year olds) and 41% of those who haven’t seen, or can’t remember seeing, horses in person would like the opportunity to change this.

If people living in cities can spend more time with our four-legged friends, it is likely to have a positive impact on their wellbeing, with 84% saying they feel happy when they do get a chance to be close to animals.

Recent research commissioned through a partnership between the charity Mind and GoRacingGreen found 100% of Mind participants reported an uplift in their mood following a yard visit.

John Blake, CEO of Racing to School and Racing Together said, “We are a proud partner of National Racehorse Week since its inception, and we know that being around horses has a positive impact on our beneficiaries. The week-long event has significant potential to connect people with racing’s incredible equine athletes and this year will see school children, care home residents and community groups involved again.

“Racing to School, Racing Together and Autism in Racing are all programmes that aim to connect people with horses during National Racehorse Week and beyond. We would like to thank our many partners for their support to increase our contribution to National Racehorse Week this year.”

Rob Hezel, CEO of The Racing Foundation, primary funders of National Racehorse Week said, “National Racehorse Week is a great opportunity to connect with local communities to showcase racing as a force for good across the country and to demonstrate the outstanding level of care that racehorses receive.

“The Racing Foundation is proud to support such an important initiative. We hope our funding will allow the event to be a success and a catalyst for the sport to take a much more strategic approach to community engagement in the future.”

Jo Foster who is based near Bradford will take active racehorse, Sigurd, to visit two care homes, two schools and Lothersdale Young Farmers Club during the week. Sigurd regularly visits schools and care homes in between racing. See video here with Sigurd visiting a school and care home in June.

Foster said, “Sigurd is an incredible horse – he competes on the racecourse, but also regularly visits schools and residential homes, which has become second nature to him. I’ve never known a horse so able to relax and genuinely relate to people, from children with special needs, to older people in wheelchairs.

“For me, National Racehorse Week is about how we, as trainers, can help people and give back to the community. These wonderful horses offer us so much more than winning races: they put smiles on people’s faces and can genuinely help people who are feeling sad, lonely, or isolated. It’s also an opportunity for people to come and see how we, in turn, look after our racehorses.”

Other trainers hosting community visits include Dan Skelton, Richard Phillips, Rae Guest,

Richard Hannon, Daniel & Claire Kubler, Hugo Palmer, James Ewart, Jimmy Moffatt, Lucinda Russell and Rebecca Menzies.

Godolphin, who are a supporting partner of National Racehorse Week, will be taking a former racehorse to meet pupils at Newmarket Academy as part of the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project, and will also host young people from Leicester’s Urban Equestrian Centre to tour both its Darley Stud and rehoming centre. The Jockey Club, who also support the initiative, will host visitors from the Rio Ferdinand Foundation at Pat Phelan Racing in Epsom.

National Racehorse Week is funded primarily by the Racing Foundation, with additional significant support from The Horserace Betting Levy Board and Great British Racing. For 2022, supporting partners include; The Jockey Club, Godolphin, ARC, Sir Peter O’Sullevan Trust and The Japan Racing Association. The event was the original idea of trainer Richard Phillips and forms a key part of the sports welfare strategy ‘A Life Well Lived’, overseen by the Horse Welfare Board.

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