Meet members of The British Racing Club

The Daily Mail's Mike Keegan joins British Racing Club's members at Emma Lavelle's stables.

The group is an eclectic mix. They are all kinds. Teachers, tradesmen (and women), retirees. But they all have two things in common. First, they love horse racing. Second, they pay £25 a month to be a member of the British Racing Club (BRC) and, as a result, get to spend a day as an owner a number of times a year.

The day begins at the stables, which are fascinating. Emma Lavelle is a trainer in demand and, as a result, around 70 horses are poking their heads out of their boxes.

We are allowed to wander around, with stable hands happy to talk about each one and its prospects for the season. There is a carousel, on which the horses can go for a walk without going anywhere and even a vibrating platform, which is said to heal injuries.

We are led by BRC founder Rupert Fowler, a wonderful raconteur and former landlord of a Knightsbridge pub which boasted members of the Royal Family as regulars.

'We have horses with trainers across England and Scotland. We try to make sure all of our members get to come out for a day's racing each year, enjoy an experience like this, and we have not had to refuse anyone an owner's pass yet.

'We also have our members' page, on which they can watch the build-up to races and interviews with the jockeys who are riding our horses before they go out to race.'

There is, however, a word of warning – do not go into this for the winnings.

As Rupert explains: 'We exist to get more people into racing and to give them experiences like this. Don't get me wrong, it would be wonderful to get to a stage where we can begin to pay our members a dividend, but that is not what we are about.'

From the stables, we head up a hill to the gallops. As we stroll across the 'track' I am amazed to find it consists of tiny bits of old carpet. Apparently, this is a technique that started around 10 years ago. The horses like the feel of it underfoot and it soaks up the rain which often visits these parks. The sight of premier racehorses galloping on old Axminster carpets from a thousand living rooms is a treat in itself.

Lavelle, a down-to-earth, impressive operator, joins us and gives us a commentary on each of the horses as they thunder up the hill towards us.

From the stables, we head, via a clothing change, to Newbury. The first perk, is that you get to skip the crowds, head in via the owner's entrance and enjoy some of the fine food (and drink) on offer. From there, Rupert leads us to the pre-parade ring, where we get an exclusive first look at the horses as they are saddled-up.

We then head to the owner's section of the grandstand where Rupert's sharp-as-a-tack daughter Georgie gives me a tip for the first race. It romps home at 9/1. I could get used to this.

From there it is down to the winner's enclosure where I resist the urge to tell the victorious jockey he has just landed me £132.50.

It goes on like this for the rest of the day. Chat to the jockey, look at the horses, into the stand and back out again. It is great fun and incredibly addictive - even if the first win is my last.

We retire to the wonderful Queen's Arms in nearby East Garston, with what is left of our winnings. Given that this is the 'Valley of the Racehorse', as the sign says, the bar is full of jockeys and trainers and the chat, along with the food, is superb.

I retire to bed feeling like I have had an education and a red letter day rolled into one and as I head up the M4 the next morning, I think about that £25-a-month and figure out that if I have one coffee a day instead of two, it will cover it.

To read the full article click here.

To get involved with The British Racing Club or to find out more about the Club, click here.




by Jo B at Rewards4Racing

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