Sussex horse racing fans to get rare access to trainers’ yards

Racehorse trainers in Sussex are offering a fantastic opportunity to discover the inner workings of a race yard, by opening their doors to the public for free next week.
Nick Gifford's horses on the gallops at Findon | Picture: GettyNick Gifford's horses on the gallops at Findon | Picture: Getty
Nick Gifford's horses on the gallops at Findon | Picture: Getty

Several leading trainers such as Nick Gifford and David Menuisier will host open days as part of National Racehorse Week. The nationwide event runs from this Saturday, September 10 to Sunday 18 having been launched last year with great success.

Over 150 venues will open across Britain, including 12 in the south-east, offering the public the chance to see the love, nurture and attention to detail that goes into caring for racehorses.

In Sussex the following yards have open days:

David Menuisier is opening his Pulborough yard | Picture: GettyDavid Menuisier is opening his Pulborough yard | Picture: Getty
David Menuisier is opening his Pulborough yard | Picture: Getty
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Suzy Smith, Sunday 11 September: Angmering Park near Littlehampton

Nick Gifford, Tuesday 13 September: Findon near Worthing

Gary Moore, Tuesday 15 September: Lower Beeding near Horsham

Camilla Poulton, Saturday 17 September: Lewes

David Menuisier and Luke Dace, Sunday 18 September: Pulborough

The open days are free to attend and people of all ages are welcome, offering a fantastic family day out in the countryside.

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As well as horses in training to race, several studs (where these horses are bred) and after care centres have also come on board for this exciting initiative. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the stars of the sport up close and meet the team of staff and professionals, who ensure that these equine athletes lead happy lives, both during their career in racing and after they have retired.

The industry employs more than 6,000 people, most of whom are in some way involved in providing the highest level of care to these magnificent animals 365 days of the year.

Nick Gifford is a Grade 1 winning National Hunt racehorse trainer based in Findon on the Sussex Downs – which has been a racing village since the 1800s.

It is very much a family affair at The Downs Stables which was previously the base of Nick’s father, the famous Josh Gifford, who was four-time Champion Jockey and trained Aldaniti to win the Grand National in 1981. Nick will welcome visitors to discover the inner workings of a race yard on 13 September.

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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 this all-important aspect 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.

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ITV Racing presenter Chris Hughes, himself a huge racing enthusiast, is an ambassador for National Racehorse Week and 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.”

Visits to the event must be booked in advance. To find out which yards are open in your area, use the link higher in this story.