FORMER Love Island star and racing fanatic Chris Hughes has thrown all his support behind National Racehorse Week.
Hughes got stuck in with trainer Richard Phillips, whose unlikey inspiration for the week came in the shape of pop icon Taylor Swift.
Phillips said how, upon hearing Swift pulled out of an appearance at the 2019 Melbourne Cup as a result of a backlash at her appearance at a racing event, he decided the public should be given the chance first-hand to see how horses live.
Just two years on some 131 yards have signed up to this brilliant initiative.
Those with a huge, little or no interest at all in the sport can get up close and personal with the stars of the show.
They can feed the horses, see what their daily training regime looks like [including trips to the spa] and get a grasp of the life of a yard worker.
The week, which started last Sunday, finishes in Newmarket with the Henry Cecil Open Weekend on September 18-19.
Some 10,000 people are expected to attend over the course of the week, showing the level of interest.
It was originally planned to be held over a single day.
Hughes and Phillips got together on day one, with the trainer saying: “There are so many great stories to tell and so much good work goes on that it’s turned into a week.
‘VISITS ARE SELLING OUT’
“I’m delighted with the way people have embraced it.
“The trainers have been wonderful in embracing this and each one is doing something different.
“The only downfall of the whole week is that it’s been so popular, they’ve been selling out!
“In future years, hopefully this will run and run and we’ll have even more opportunities for people to come and visit a racing yard and see all the great work they do.
‘SO MUCH REWARD’
“I was very lucky that at the age of five or six I went down to Epsom and saw the Derby start and all the jockeys, including Lester Piggott, and knew then exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
“It ignited a passion and a love of the racehorse and I’m hoping a few other young people will be feeling the exact same this week.
“It’s a great life and a great occupation. You get so much reward from it, including financial as well as the adrenaline buzz from caring for horses.”