As a child it was the first racecourse I ever visited. I cheered racing greats into the old winner’s enclosure, choked on my first cigarette when a naive 14-year-old at pony club camp, made lifelong friends in the stables.
I have trained and ridden winners there and tasted the soil more times than I care to recall. The place holds many happy memories.
It was therefore very disappointing to add a negative to my long list of positives. We arrived mid-afternoon, parking the wagon in the horsebox park. The place was full so I picked somewhere we could get out easily.
We are venturing far and wide to get fast work into the racehorses without putting them at risk of injury - Jo FosterSledmere House becomes the first Yorkshire Shire Horse Society approved centreOnce making the runners comfortable in their stables I collected the colours bag from the wagon, checked our belongings were hidden under the seats and locked up as normal.
After a hectic day with both horses running well and bringing home prize money we packed up the wagon happy and jumped in to leave. It was then I noticed a blanket, which had been covering my handbag behind the seat, laid crumpled on the floor. My bag was nowhere to be seen.
After repeated searching and a closer check of the door lock, it was clear someone had broken in and stolen it. Inside it was the usual, money cards driving licence etc. All aggravating and time-consuming items to replace. I was upset. Fortunately, they had not taken the other bag which belonged to the groom. I was relieved for the small mercy.
Within minutes of them breaking in the thieves had gone on a spending spree around Wetherby and Leeds, running up my bank accounts to their limit.
The CCTV footage of my cards being used in the shops is only of interest to police if there is a witness or footage of them breaking into my vehicle. The Clerk of the Course told me it is not the first time this has happened.
“There have been thefts from horseboxes on about seven or eight occasions this season,” he informed me. Far too frequently for my liking.
What has infuriated me most about the whole situation, further research has uncovered what is a serious issue at many racecourses.
Thieves are targeting horseboxes on a regular, almost daily, basis now. Despite crimes being reported neither the courses nor the BHA seems concerned enough to put simple measures in place to catch them at it.
Measures which shouldn’t be just about deterring them. Catching them at it is the only way police can charge these offenders. This is something I do not intend to sit on.
We should not just accept such behaviour is part of society.