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Frankie's Appeal For Retired Racehorses

BRITAIN'S favourite jockey Frankie Dettori today appealed to the public to help retired racehorses.

The team captain on BBC TV's Question Of Sport, who will bid to win his first ever Derby this weekend (7 JUNE) at Epsom, said: "We need to do everything we can to ensure these great horses are not neglected when they finish racing.

"In the wrong hands, ex-racehorses can be dangerous but, after proper rehabilitation and retraining, in the right hands they can be a joy to ride."

The original organisation that pioneered the welfare of ex-racehorses is the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre in Lancashire. An open day is being held on Sunday 22 June to show people how horses that no longer race are re-trained before going to new homes.

The Centre costs £260,000 a year to run, most of which comes from its own fund raising efforts.


Frankie Dettori and TRC senior groom Jenny Dunn

Frankie said: "The work done at the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre is fantastic, and the re-training techniques and riding displays at its open days are fascinating to see. Everyone with an interest in horses should go along on 22 June."

The Italian jockey is one of the charity's five patrons who also include BBC TV's former 'voice of racing' Sir Peter O'Sullevan.

The stars of the open day at Poplar Grove Farm in Nateby, near Preston, are two of the best-known retired steeplechasers:

*Desert Orchid touched the hearts of a nation in the 1980s and early 1990s as he became a legend in his own racing career, winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Irish Grand National and, on no fewer than four occasions, the Boxing Day King George VI Steeplechase.

*Hallo Dandy, a permanent resident at the Centre, won the Grand National in 1984. He is now 29 years old.

Visitors on Sunday 22 June will be able to talk to the Centre's founder Carrie Humble and chief trainer Julie Robinson about their work, while keen racing fan and former Coronation Street actor Charlie Lawson (Jim McDonald) will sign autographs and speak to fans of the soap.

"Greyhounds UK" - a campaign founded by actress Annette Crosbie - will also be at the Centre with their dogs to show the work that is done for rescued greyhounds.

*Gates open at 12 noon on Sunday 22 June at the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre, Poplar Grove Farm, Humblescough Lane, Nateby, near Preston,
Lancashire. Admission is £5 for adults and £3 for concessions, including children under 16 and the unwaged. Further details can be obtained by calling 01995 605007.

**Directions to the Centre: (from the north) leave the M6 at junction 33, take the A6 south or five miles, then follow the yellow signs; (from the south) leave the M6 at junction 32 and M55 at junction 1, take the A6 north for seven miles, then follow the yellow signs.


The Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre

Patrons: Sir Peter O'Sullevan; Lord Oaksey; The Marquess of Zetland; Frankie Dettori; Peter Humble

The Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre is the brainchild of Carrie Humble, its founder and director. Having worked in America for 17 years, variously in theatre, the antique trade and animal welfare, Carrie returned to the UK in 1988. Much of 1991 was spent working with a friend and her father preparing his thoroughbred stock for the sales, and as a direct result of going to these bloodstock sales and seeing the reality of what these horses face when their racing days are over, Carrie conceived the idea of the TRC.

By 1993 Carrie had successfully applied for and been granted charitable status for the TRC. She had enlisted the support of Sir Peter O'Sullevan as one of the patrons, and Bernard Donigan, former equine superintendent with the RSPCA, who became chair of the board of trustees. After five years at Birkrigg Park Arabian Stud, near Kendal, where the TRC had only seven boxes and five acres, the demand for the work was such that a move to larger premises was vital. In November 1998 the centre moved to its present location at the former livery stables at Poplar Grove Farm in Nateby near Preston where the Centre leases 24 stables; 60 acres of land and an outdoor manege. Since 1998 the TRC has added an indoor school; field shelters; a round pen and three more stables.

The need for organisations like the TRC is as great now as it has ever been. Some of the hundreds of horses leaving racing each year filter down through other equestrian fields but many end up in the saleroom where there is no control over their destination. This is where well-intentioned but inexperienced buyers can find themselves with a bargain nightmare - a highly strung, finely-tuned, race-trained blood equine, not the average rider's ideal horse but the equivalent of a formula one racing car. Often unable to ride their prized possession, the novice owner turns to supposed experts to come and 'sort out' their problem. In unsympathetic hands, these horses can become dangerous, are then branded as rogues and all too often the first step in the cycle of neglect is taken.

For trainers, trying to balance the welfare of the horse against the demand for competitive success is virtually impossible and whilst it is easy to criticise owners and trainers, it is not always fair. The TRC has always wanted to work from within racing and feels it is important to offer solutions and alternatives to those owners and trainers who do care where their charges end up. The TRC provides an environment of safety and experienced, quality care where these horses can be re-educated and converted for use in other equine fields. The horses are given time to adjust and relax before they are asked to rethink their way of working. Horses that have been trained purely to race often find this difficult and the TRC makes this transition as pleasant and productive as possible. When a horse has reached a sensible, contented conversion, it becomes available for re-homing but even when the horse has been re-homed, it remains the property of the TRC and is loaned out under very specific conditions to ensure its lifelong welfare.

Although the TRC has now received some financial backing from the industry, the organisation still has to raise the majority of its income from its own fundraising efforts and the support of the horse-loving general public. Within the next two years the TRC is also aiming to raise the funds to buy its own premises and will remain in the north west of England.

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