This year sees the first ever National Racehorse Week, which started on Sunday and runs to Sunday, September 19, with three Herefordshire trainers taking part, offering members of the public a rare opportunity to visit their yards for a glimpse of life behind the stable door.

Hereford Times: National Racehorse week

The three Herefordshire trainers, Venetia Williams and Thomas Symonds based in Ross-on-Wye and Matt Sheppard based in Ledbury – will be joining more than 100 other trainers across the country taking part and opening their doors to the public for free.

Hereford Times: Riding out at Thomas Symonds Racing

The open days will celebrate the nation’s racehorses and allow the public to witness first-hand the care, love and attention that goes into looking after racehorses and the fantastic lives that these magnificent animals lead.

The open days are completely free to attend and will showcase a range of activities varying from yard to yard, including the chance to meet racehorses in training as well as those that have retired. There is so much going on – with trainers and their teams hosting tours of the facilities; seeing the horses exercising on the gallops, treadmills and swimming pools; welfare demonstrations such as horse chiropractic and physiotherapy and light refreshments.

National Racehorse Week was the brainchild of trainer Richard Phillips, who had the idea of creating a single event that the entire racing industry could get behind to celebrate the animals who power the sport and provide entertainment for millions, whilst also providing the public and policymakers with insight into the dedicated care that they receive.

The event was launched in July by TV star and ITV racing presenter Chris Hughes, who himself often rides racehorses at trainer Jonjo O’Neill’s yard and frequently features his favourite horse, Annie Mc, on his social media channels said, “As someone who loves racing, I’m so excited that everyone will have the chance to go behind the scenes at a racing yard near them and see the wonderful care that horses receive. Racehorses are like family to the people that look after them every single day of the year and it will be brilliant for members of the public to meet their local equine stars, find out how they are looked after, chat to staff and see various different elements of a horse’s training regime – from being out on the gallops, to seeing the physio and even taking a dip in an equine swimming pool!”

Thomas Symonds is based in Ross-on-Wye, and will be opening on Thursday, September 16. Guests will enjoy an equine physiotherapy demonstration as well as the chance to get up close to the equine stars.

Matt Sheppard, based at Home Farm Cottage in Ledbury will be opening on Sunday, September 19. Matt is also hosting a charity cricket match in the afternoon with famous faces taking part in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Hereford Times: Matt Shepherd with The Bay Birch

Venetia Williams has maintained her position as one of the country’s top trainers from her base at Aramstone Stables in the beautiful countryside near Ross on Wye. Throughout her career, Venetia has won many significant races but none more so than in 2009 when Mon Mome triumphed in The Grand National. She became only the second woman in history to achieve such an accolade.Venetia and her team welcomed visitors to Aramstone last Sunday.

Ahead of National Racehorse Week, Venetia, Tom and Matt offered a glimpse into life as a racehorse trainer:

How long have you trained racehorses in Herefordshire?

TS: This will be my 10th season

Hereford Times: Hollywoodien at Thomas Symonds Racing

VW: We’ve trained in Herefordshire for 25 years

MS: My wife Nickie and I have been training in Eastnor for 27 years since September 1993

Why did you choose to base yourself here?

TS: Dason Court has been in my family for years and the plan was for me to come back and set up training alongside the arable farm. It has always been work in progress and the facilities are getting better and better each year.

VW: Aramstone was my grandmother’s family home

MS: We had just got married and were lucky enough to find a suitable property on Eastnor Estate that we could develop into a racing yard.

What makes Herefordshire a special place to train racehorses?

TS: We are lucky to have great land and grass. My father was not so happy when we put gallops through Grade 1 land! It is a beautiful county with some great people and is steeped in racing history, equine and human

VW: Accessibility, the gradients of land and sandstone soil for turning the horses out.

MS: Our part of Herefordshire is the best. We have easy access to the M50 motorway and can reach many racecourses in less than 3 hours. We are one of very few trainers that does not use an all weather gallop but we have acres of turf on the estate and when conditions are very dry there is a natural sand loop where we can work the horses

What can people expect to see on your open day?

TS: We are looking forward to inviting the public to a visit to the yard to give them an opportunity to see and enjoy the wonderful environment the horses live and train in. Guests will also get to see first-hand the love, care and attention they receive daily. I will give a tour of the yard and facilities explaining the horse’s daily routine and the planning from birth to racecourse and the thought process behind them. We buy a lot as foals and yearling so you they can be seen at all stages. As well as training I have a huge passion for breeding and will explain my views and as a member of the NH Thoroughbred Breeders Association what we are trying to achieve. A lot of the mares in training have been bought due to their pedigrees with the intention of breeding after racing.

Hereford Times: NatMultiple Group Two winner Sing for Someone, known at home at Thomas Symonds Racing as Bing

VW: Many of our well-known horses. All our training facilities including the equine swimming pool, our schooling grounds and the fantastic gallops.

MS: At 12.30pm we’ll have a parade of horse at 1pm and a chat with visitors. At 2.30pm there is an Injured Jockeys Fund charity cricket match at Eastnor Cricket Club which is 100yds away and always proves to be good entertainment.

What do you enjoy about going racing in Herefordshire?

TS: Not having to spend all day in a car!

VW: The great enthusiasm and support of the community

MS: Any day at the races is a day well spent. When a horse runs well at a local track the real racing followers always give you a good clap.

Outside racing, what do you enjoy doing?

TS: Music, running and good food.

VW: Skiing – snow and water.

MS: A horseracing nut like myself sadly has little time for much else although I am currently writing my memoirs!