Quite poignant, perhaps, following the sad passing of Her Majesty the Queen, a long lover herself of the grand sport of horse racing, and one that owned hundreds of horses, winning thousands of races. This weekend, and for the next week, race venues across the Midlands will open their stables, for free, to everyone, as part of the ‘National Racehorse Week,’ including that of Ivan Furtado’s Averham Park Farm, in Newark.
The Brazilian born trainer has won over a £1m in prize earnings since going it alone in 2015 with successful stable horses including Just Beautiful, Sparklealot, Lizzie Jean and Teston, but have you ever wondered how these racehorses are trained to win races?
It is both a science and an art but above all, it involves an awful lot of nurturing and love for these horses to feel and perform at their best.
The Midlands harbours some of the best racehorse trainers in the world and a number of those will be opening their doors to the public this week as part of National Racehorse Week.
The event runs from 10-18 September with 18 stables across the Midlands (Nottinghamshire is joined by the other counties in Bedfordshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire) offering dates throughout the week for people to gather ‘behind the scenes’ insight into this fascinating world, which remains the second most watched sport in the country.
‘Behind the Scenes’ could see visitors to the yard experience the following – daily fitness training, racehorse schooling, veterinary care demonstrations, live farriery (looking after a racehorses hooves), downtime of a horse, race ready, and retraining.
This is a nationwide event where 180 venues will open across Britain, offering the public the chance to see the love, nurture and attention to detail that goes into caring for racehorses.
All open days across the region, are free to attend and people of all ages are welcome, offering a fantastic family day out in the countryside. Many of them offer refreshments and activities for all ages.
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the stars of the sport up close and meet the team of staff and professionals who provide highest level of care to these magnificent animals 365 days of the year.
Whilst it is free entry for everyone, tickets must be booked in advance and most yards still have places available. Find a venue to visit in your area:
The open days will showcase a range of activities which varies from yard to yard, but all will offer the chance to meet racehorses in training, as well as the much-loved stable stars who have retired.
The trainers and their team will host a guided tour of their facilities; offering the chance to see horses exercise on the gallops, and on the treadmills and walkers.
Some yards even have purposefully designed equine swimming pools, an activity most horses enjoy and just like with humans, it offers a great low-impact workout.
Physiotherapists, chiropractors and farriers (who put the horse’s shoes on) are an intrinsic part of any trainers’ yard, and many open days will offer demonstrations and insight into these important aspects of horse management and welfare.
Even for those with little interest in horses and horseracing, these open days promise a unique and wholesome ‘day out’, amidst beautiful countryside. There will be light refreshments in most cases.
A recent survey commissioned by Great British Racing, highlighted some startling figures concerning city-dwellers.
Whilst 84% of participants in the survey reported feeling happy when close to animals, 34% had never touched a horse and 50% of 18-24 year olds who lived in cities have never seen or can’t remember seeing a horse ‘in person’.
It is no secret that spending time in the countryside and around animals is excellent for health and well-being, yet almost half the people surveyed had not visited the countryside in the last year.
TV Star and ITV Racing Presenter Chris Hughes, himself a huge racing enthusiast is an ambassador for National Racehorse Week said: “The impact of getting up close to a horse cannot be underestimated.
“And racing has created a unique opportunity through National Racehorse Week to help people meet these incredible animals, experience the life of a thoroughbred and talk to the dedicated teams who care for them 365 days a year.
“There is nothing quite like this in any other sport. More than 11,000 places will be available to book free of charge at locations up and down the country with everyone welcome to join.”
To find out which yards are open in your area and which still have availability, there is a useful postcode search on the National Racehorse Week website that will advise you of a number of events in your area.
For further information on the Newark Stable, who open their doors on Monday 12 September, visit their page on the National Racehorse Week website where you can make a booking, the full address is; The Old Stables, Averham Park, Newark, Nottinghamshire. NG23 5RU.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @ivanfurtado21 horses at Ivan Furtado’s yard in Newark.