Come along to Racing Welfare’s ARC Middleham Open Day this Good Friday, 7th April, to enjoy a day packed full of family-friendly activities, whilst raising money for racing’s human welfare charity.

The Arena Racing Company sponsored day provides racing fans and the local community with a unique opportunity to visit some of the area’s most successful racing stables. As well as visiting the stables during the morning, visitors will enjoy the Retraining of Racehorses horse show and Western display, the Aiskew Equine and Pet Supplies Dog Show, plus much more throughout the afternoon.

The funds raised from the open day go towards Racing Welfare’s vital support services for people working in or retired from the sport of horseracing. People like Esther, a former Head Person at one of the town’s racing yards, for whom the charity was a lifeline when chronic neurological symptoms caused her health to deteriorate quite rapidly.  She said: “I was quite poorly, but not yet diagnosed. I wanted to keep working but was finding it hard to hide my difficulties from others… it was clear there was something going on, and that’s when [my employer] put me in touch with Racing Welfare.”

With Racing Welfare’s support, Esther was given a diagnosis and work towards a better quality of life could begin.

Esther recalls: “It took nearly two years to get my diagnosis, and [Racing Welfare] was with me at every step.”

To help her cope with her symptoms, which included crippling back pain, muscle weakness, and seizures, Racing Welfare funded physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and acupuncture treatments. The charity helped her overcome barriers that her condition caused, such as helping her access medical appointments when her symptoms made it impossible to drive, and purchasing a washing machine for her when she was unable to make it out of the house to a launderette.

She says: “I couldn’t walk very far, I didn’t have a washing machine, and the launderette was quite a way into town. Small things like that really do make a big difference.”

Esther talks about how Racing Welfare not only supported with her physical health issues, but also mentally as it became clear that returning to her job at the racing yard would not be possible. She says: “When I had to stop work, that was the worst thing. When you work in horseracing it’s your social life, your work, everything.

“Work was always my identity. That’s who I was, then suddenly that was gone.”

Through Racing Welfare, Esther was offered a place on a life-changing horsemanship course with HorseBack UK in the Scottish Highlands. Since returning she has continued to work with Racing Welfare to help others: “I’ve completed the mentor course with HorseBack UK and will be returning there at the end of March this year to mentor another Racing Welfare group.

“I also volunteer with the local RDA [Riding for the Disabled] and for Racing Welfare’s Check-In and Chat service… I’m getting as much from it as a volunteer as the people that I am talking to. I feel better being the one that is instigating the call. It helps with my sense of purpose now. It’s good to have that, otherwise every day can become the same.”

As part of her volunteer role with the local RDA, Esther will be at Racing Welfare’s ARC Middleham Open Day on Good Friday. She says: “It’s nice seeing all the people coming in their coach loads from the surrounding cities and towns, all having a great day out.”

Esther’s full story is available on the Racing Welfare website.

The full list of trainers opening for the Middleham Open Day is as follows:

  • Charlie Johnston
  • Foulrice Park Racing
  • James Horton
  • Jedd O’Keeffe
  • Karl Burke
  • Micky Hammond
  • Neil Mechie

Yards will be opening from 9:30am-1pm (Karl Burke opening from 10am), with the afternoon activities taking place on Middleham’s Low Moor. Follow Racing Welfare on social media for regular updates.

Advance tickets are £12.50 for adults and £8.50 for concessions, rising to £15 and £10 on the day. Under 16s go free.

Book now at