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Posted on 15th December 2021

Christmas in the horseracing industry

The reality is horses (and all other animals) need caring for 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Horseracing is part of the leisure industry which means that racecourses host a fixture when they are likely to attract a large number of spectators. Horseracing is the second biggest spectator sport, after football, in the UK.
During 2021 there will be just three days when there will have been no racing staged; 23, 24 and 25 December, but that doesn’t mean that the horses don’t need exercising and looking after on these days because on Boxing Day there are seven National Hunt fixtures and one Flat meeting scheduled, including the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park which is a very prestigious race.
To ensure everyone gets time off over the festive period most racing yards will operate with half the staff working the Christmas period and then the staff who were off over Christmas will work the New Year whilst those who worked Christmas will be off work over the New Year. The National Horseracing College operates a very similar policy; after all, we are preparing learners for the world of work.
For some people working over this period may seem unappealing however working over Christmas and the New Year isn’t unique to horseracing. Quickly think of all the things people might do over these days and you’ll suddenly realise how many other people are working. Those working at the fuel stations, those who are cooking and serving in restaurants, the retailers who have sales starting on Boxing Day, the supermarkets who keep your fridge stocked, those who work in the public transport sector, other sporting venues… the list is endless.
Working with horses is a way of life but ask anyone who leads in a winner, rides a winner or trains a winner on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day where they would rather be and the answer will always be exactly where they are, celebrating another success. And those who don’t go to the races will be glued to the TV watching the action and cheering home the winners.
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