Trainer Charlie Fellowes is hoping that the 32Red Newmarket Open Weekend (22-23 September) can help to inspire a young generation of racing fans and, as a result, help the industry deal with its stable staff issues.
The struggle to recruit suitable staff has been well-documented in recent years and Fellowes, who was recently appointed as Chairman of the Newmarket Open Weekend, is hoping that trainers opening their yards to the general public and encouraging families to attend could be one step towards helping with the problem.
“I think the 32Red Newmarket Open Weekend benefits the whole town and racing on lots of different levels. First and foremost, it introduces new people to our sport. I know a lot of people go racing but as far as actual participation in the horseracing industry, I don’t think our conversion rate is good enough.
“Maybe kids will visit and think this is an industry that I would really like to work in. It is quite well documented at the moment that there is a stable staff shortage. We can try attract new people to work in the industry and think ‘what an amazing job’.
“This is a really great way for people to come around the yards, see behind the scenes, meet the people who ride and look after the horses, and see first hand how loved the animals are.”
Fellowes is one of many trainers in Newmarket who will open their doors to the public on the 23rd September and having only set-up as a trainer in his own right four years ago, is now reaping the rewards of having a strong support team behind him.
“I can’t do my job and train horses without the stable staff. They are unbelievably important, and it is a great way to show our appreciation for the guys that work for us. This is a labour-intensive industry and we need these guys. We are all part of a team and I am incredibly lucky that I have a team that all get on really well.
“It is no accident that we have had the best year yet here. I think I have got the best group I’ve ever had of lads and lasses, who look after, care, and ride my horses beautifully. They are unbelievably important and getting new people to come in is crucial.”
It is not only the trainers’ yards that will be open across the weekend, though. Plenty of racing-related organisations are encouraging visitors to come along and peek behind the curtain and there is already anecdotal evidence that the weekend is having a lasting effect on its attendees, according to the British Racing School.
Richard Perham, jockey coach at the British Racing School, said:
“I know in the past after the Open Weekend that we have had so many hits on the website with people wanting to know more information. The Open Weekend is a really important element for recruitment for the British Racing School.
“We have a vast array of people coming across the weekend. We hope that people will visit the British Racing School, get inspired, take some information leaflets away, and go online for more.”
The 32Red Newmarket Open Weekend, 22nd and 23rd September, is a fantastic way to visit the town of Newmarket and go behind the scenes at horseracing’s HQ. During the Open Weekend visitors will get the chance to see some of the best racehorses on Warren Hill gallops, tour a number of Newmarket’s integral equine sites such as Tattersalls and the Newmarket Equine Hospital, plus visit the yards of leading Newmarket trainers.