The third annual National Racehorse Week, from Sept. 9-17 in the UK, has been deemed a success after a record number of open days and community events, Great British Racing (GBR), who funds the initiative alongside the Racing Foundation and Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), announced on Tuesday.
Over 15,000 free places were made available across the seven days across the country 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. 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.
There were also a total of 60 dedicated community events focused on outreach, a 300% uplift from last year. These 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.
The 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, said, “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.”