Nationwide activities showcase horse welfare in British racing

British Racing is all set to promote the sport’s high standards of equine welfare on Thursday 25 June when The Horse Comes First campaign stages a range of events across the country.

Working in conjunction with the racecourses at Newmarket, Newcastle and Nottingham, who each hold afternoon race meetings – and also Aintree and the British Horseracing Education & Standards Trust (BHEST) who are hosting a Pony Education Day – The Horse Comes First will be raising awareness among children and racegoers of the first class care given to racehorses both during and after their racing careers. 

Centre stage is the July Course at Newmarket, where 160 children from local primary schools will be in attendance for the culmination of the Under Starters’ Orders Primary School Education Programme. As part of the programme, the children have already visited Dalham Hall Stud and the National Horseracing Museum and for their raceday visit they, together with racegoers, will have the opportunity to learn about the remarkable physique of a racehorse courtesy of a presentation by vets from the Newmarket Equine Hospital (NEH).

Using a painted horse, provided by the British Racing School, over the course of two demonstrations in the July Course Winners’ Enclosure, NEH vets Ben Jacklin and Will Barker will explain how a horse’s organs operate to provide the power which enables the thoroughbred to gallop both at speed and over a sustained distance and why the breed is unique amongst animals.

Also at Newmarket, before racing, there will be a Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Parade featuring Melbourne Cup runner-up, Purple Moon, along with other former locally trained horses who are now excelling in different equine disciplines including showing and eventing.

At Nottingham, a visit by children supported by the Prince’s Trust charity will be given a behind the scenes tour as well as joining race goers to hear Mark Bowen, Equine Cardiologist from Nottingham University, outline how a horse’s heart rate will increase from 30 beats per minute at rest to an astonishing 230 beats per minute when galloping.

Meanwhile, at Newcastle, vets from Glasgow University will be promoting their pilot project – The Thoroughbred Health Network – designed to enable owners and trainers to share information regarding reducing injuries and conditions that impact on performance.

The fourth location hosting related events for The Horse Comes First is Aintree Racecourse, where children attending the Pony Education Day as part of the ‘Racing To School’ project run by BHEST will be taught about the care racehorses receive and the importance the sport places on equine welfare.

John Maxse, spokesman for The Horse Comes First, said:

“British Racing has a track record that it can be proud of in terms of the care provided to racehorses both during and after their racing career. In the last 15 years, over £27 million has been invested by Racing in veterinary research and education and the sport employs over 6,500 people to give first class care and attention to the 14,000 horses in training.

“We are indebted to each of the racecourses for their support of The Horse Comes First raceday and we are really looking forward to staging a range of activities that both the hundreds of children involved and racegoers will find interesting. The aim is to highlight the dedication to horse welfare shared by all involved in the sport – with finalists from the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards speaking to the school children at Newmarket about their careers in racing.

“The Horse Comes First is an industry-wide backed initiative and we are very grateful for the support given by parties such as Newmarket Equine Hospital, British Racing School and the universities of Nottingham and Glasgow, among others, to help make the day a success.”

The Horse Comes First works closely with the British Horseracing Education & Standards Trust’s (BHEST) ‘Racing to School’ programme, as well as with the British Horseracing Authority’s ‘Racing Together’ initiative. There will be a strong community element to the day as children from local schools in Newmarket and groups from the Prince’s Trust take part in the day’s events.