Racing buffs’ rare glimpse behind the scenes

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Horse racing fans seized the opportunity to take a rare look behind the scenes when the popular Middleham Open Day returned to its traditional Good Friday slot.

Stable yards opened their doors to the public for the morning, giving visitors the chance to see horses swimming at Kingsley House Stables, watch a jumping demonstration at James Bethell’s Thorngill Stables and see Household Cavalry Horse Trooper ‘Middleham’ on show.

Middleham Open Day. Pictured Shatharaat, being lead around the outdoor Swimming arena at Mark Johnson Stables, Kingsley House.

Middleham Open Day. Pictured Shatharaat, being lead around the outdoor Swimming arena at Mark Johnson Stables, Kingsley House.

Various market stalls and food offerings in Middleham, a craft fair at the Key Centre, celebrity pony Little Alf – star of author Hannah Russell’s books – and a parade of local fox hounds were among the other attractions.

In the afternoon, events moved to the Low Moor where activities included a show to music by Retraining of Racehorses and schooling of National Hunt horses from Micky Hammond’s stable.

Sarah Fanning, of the charity Racing Welfare, said: “It’s gone really well. I think we’ve had about 3,000 people coming along and everybody has had a great day. They all love going behind the scenes and getting into the yards.

“Unless you’re an owner, you don’t have access to these places and I think that’s what draws people.”

The event, sponsored by ARC racing and training group, also raises funds for good causes.

Racing Welfare, Middleham Sports and Wellbeing Association, Riding for the Disabled and Yorkshire Air Ambulance are among this year’s beneficiaries.