The Royal Treatment: Life in a racing yard

15 Jun 2018 BHA Features Welfare

As the country gears up for Royal Ascot, a newly released film by British racing’s “The Horse Comes First campaign” goes behind the scenes of a top yard

On the eve of Royal Ascot, the racing industry’s Horse Comes First campaign has unveiled a new film that provides a look behind the scenes of a horseracing yard. Filmed in late May at Somerville Lodge – home to William Haggas, who trains racehorses for Her Majesty the Queen – the film shows the incredible facilities available to racehorses and the attentiveness and dedication of those that look after them.

From solariums and water treadmills to daily massages, personalised diet plans, and 24/7 veterinary care, the film shows how racehorses are the royalty of the equine world. Grooms rise in the early hours of the morning to feed the horses in their care, clean out their stables and get the horses ready for the day ahead. Over 6,000 people dedicate their lives in this way to the welfare of the 14,000 horses in British horseracing, providing them with a level of care and a quality of life that is virtually unsurpassed.

You can watch the short film here:

Speaking about the film, David Sykes, Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said:

“Around the country, thousands of people are thinking about their preparations for Royal Ascot. We wanted to create a film that shows the diligence and meticulousness of the racing industry and how they care for their horses, not just for the big Festivals, but all year round. Thoroughbred horses’ training and lifestyle involve the best possible care. No expense is spared on the highest quality feed, facilities and bedding to ensure they are happy and healthy athletes, but this isn’t something that the average race goer is always aware of”.

Derby winning trainer and owner of Somerville Lodge, William Haggas, said:

“Owners and trainers want to win, of course we do, but it’s not possible to win without fit, healthy and well‐looked after horses. I am incredibly proud of our operation and the team here at Somerville Lodge, equine welfare is our number one priority and so I was delighted to allow the cameras in and show what we do here.”

The film features interviews with a number of staff at Somerville Lodge, including groom Annie Martin who said:

“I’d heard rumours about the way horses are treated before I entered the industry, but it’s simply not true. To run well and run safely, horses are treated like kings and queens. They really are given the very best care we can possibly give them.”

The film is available to view on the British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s website and will be shown at racecourses across the country over the coming weeks.

About the Horse Comes First campaign

Leading organisations in British Horseracing have come together to increase awareness of the high standards of equine welfare in the sport. The initiative aims to improve understanding of the care given to our horses throughout and after their careers in racing.

The campaign is supported by the British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association, Racehorse Owners Association, the Professional Jockeys Association, the National Trainers Federation, The Jockey Club, the National Association of Stable Staff, Retraining of Racehorses and Arena Racing Company.

More information: