Charlie Fellowes hopes Newmarket Open Weekend will help inspire young fans

Wed 29 Aug 2018

Charlie Fellowes hopes the 32Red Newmarket Open Weekend next month will inspire a young generation of racing fans and help the industry deal with its stable staff issues.

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The struggle to recruit suitable staff has been well-documented in recent years and Fellowes, recently appointed as Chairman of the Newmarket Open Weekend, believes the trainers opening their yards to the general public may help solve the problem.

“I think the 32Red Newmarket Open Weekend benefits the whole town and racing on lots of different levels,” Fellowes said. “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 they would 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 visit 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 September 23. He only set-up as a trainer in his own right four years ago and 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,” he said. “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 of September 22-23.

 Visitors to the Open Weekend will also get the chance to watch horses working on Warren Hill. (Focusonracing)
Visitors to the Open Weekend will also get the chance to watch horses working on Warren Hill. (Focusonracing)

Plenty of racing-related organisations will also play their part 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 us.

“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.”

Visitors to the Open Weekend will also 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.

Ticket prices start at £15 per person, with children Under 12 free all weekend. To purchase tickets and for a full list of events taking place over the weekend visit www.newmarketopenweekend.co.uk.

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