Patron, Ambassadors and Trustees


Dame Judi Dench CH, DBE, FRSA, Patron

Dame Judi Dench is one of Britain’s greatest-ever actresses. Born in York, her long and varied career has taken in everything from the great Shakespearean roles to television light comedy and musical theatre. Equally brilliant on stage or on the screen, she has been nominated for an Academy Award seven times and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare In Love. As a racehorse owner she had her biggest success when Smokey Oakey won the 2008 Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster. (Photo above is Dame Judi pictured with BTRC CEO Gillian Carlisle and Chairman John Sexton at the Annual Peter O’Sullevan Awards Lunch at the Dorchester, London.)

Sir Peter O SullevanSir Peter O’Sullevan, Patron 1991 – 2015

Sir Peter O’Sullevan was the BBC’s horse racing commentator for 50 years and racing correspondent for the Press Association and later the Daily Express. Universally known as the “Voice of Racing”, he was knighted for his services to racing and broadcasting in 1997. Sir Peter was instrumental in the early set up of the BTRC and continued to offer much-valued financial support to the Centre and five other welfare charities through the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust.


Frankie DetorriFrankie Dettori MBE

One of the greatest and most charismatic jockeys to grace the British Turf, Frankie Dettori remains one of the biggest stars of British racing. Dettori has been Champion Jockey on three occasions and has ridden the winners of more than 500 Group races. This includes twenty winners of the English classics. His most celebrated achievement was riding all seven winners on British Champions’ Day at Ascot in 1996. He is the son of the Sardinian jockey Gianfranco Dettori, who was a prolific winner in Italy. He has been described by Lester Piggott as the best jockey currently riding. Frankie lives near Newmarket with wife Catherine and they have five children: Leo, Ella, Mia, Tallula, and Rocco.

James Hick

A previous Trustee of BTRC, James joined The British Horse Society (BHS) in 2019 from a long career in the private sector, and since then has been leading the BHS to continue its support of the equine industry across its charitable aims; Welfare, Education, Safe Riding Routes in Access, Safety & Participation. Collectively, the Society’s 119,000 Members, 1100 Volunteers, 3000 Accredited Professionals and 650 Approved Centres are driving up the standards; promoting equine welfare, safe off-road access, and safety, whilst increasing participation and encouraging more people from all backgrounds and communities to become involved with equestrianism. James is also a member of the National Equine Forum Organisation Committee, a Director of The British Horse Council, and a member of the Equine Infectious Disease Surveillance Oversight Committee.

Claire King

Claire gained notoriety early in her career by playing manipulative Kim Tate in Emmerdale for almost a decade. She also took the part of Governor Karen Betts in ITV’s hit prison drama Bad Girls and has featured in many, many other television & radio programmes as well as advertisements & listening books.
Aside from acting & writing, Claire is also a keen horse rider. She held an amateur jockey’s license, owns shares in 5 racehorses & used to ride out for a few trainers as well as taking part in a number of charity races. She presented a documentary for This Morning on the plight of the horses in Lesotho in aid of World Horse Welfare. She has now returned to the Dales and is currently regularly back on screen in Emmerdale as the iconic Kim Tate.

Charlie LawsonCharlie Lawson

Actor Charlie Lawson is a long-standing supporter and fund-raiser for the BTRC. Well known for his role as Jim McDonald in Britain’s favourite soap ‘Coronation Street’ he named the TRC as his charity in 2014 when winning the top prize on the TV show ‘Celebrity Family Fortunes’. These days, he devotes much of his time to running his farm shop in Cheshire with partner Debbie.

Dinah NicholsonDinah Nicholson

For many years Dinah Nicholson was the unwavering support for her late husband David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson as he became one of the top National Hunt trainers in Britain during the 1980’s and 90’s. As a couple they were keen supporters of the BTRC from the early years and Dinah’s enthusiasm and dedication to the future welfare of retired racehorses remains as strong as ever.

Louise OwenLouise Owen

Louise Owen has been passionate about horses all her life and trained dressage horses to a high level before turning her attention to the thoroughbred. With her husband Michael, the former England international footballer, she set up Manor House Stables in Cheshire and is particularly keen to ensure horses enjoy a great life after their racing careers are over.

John ReidJohn Reid MBE

Ulsterman John Reid, one of the most stylish jockeys of his generation, came to prominence when winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Ile de Bourbon in 1978 and remained at the top of the tree for almost 25 years in which time his big race wins included the Derby, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the St Leger. He is now a qualified jockey coach based in Oxfordshire.

Gordon SidlowGordon Sidlow BVMS MRCVS

Gordon Sidlow qualified from Glasgow University in 1984. After 12 years working as a farm and equine vet in mid – Devon he was appointed as the first equestrian vet for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. As such he was responsible for the veterinary care of around 500 retired thoroughbreds in HK riding schools and overseeing the rehoming of around 1000 more in equestrian stables in China. He has worked as a treating vet at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and has served as FEI Veterinary Delegate at a variety of 5* competitions in both Asia and Europe. Since returning to the UK in 2009 he now runs an equine practice in Devon and still visits retired racehorses in China on a regular basis.

Dr Ellen SingerDr Ellen Singer DVM BA DVSc FRCVS

Ellen graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1987. She then spent time at Ontario Veterinary College between 1990 -1994 and the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in Israel between 1994 -1995. She was appointed as Lecturer in Equine Orthopaedics at the University of Liverpool in 1996 and subsequently as Senior Lecturer in 2002. Ellen is a Diplomate of the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Surgery. Ellen sits on the committee for the Association of Racecourse Veterinary Surgeons as the Associate Scientific Meeting Organiser. Ellen also performs veterinary duties at Blenheim 3 day event and at Aintree and Haydock Park racecourses. She is an experienced rider and competes her own horse at affiliated events.

Mark Tompkins

One of the top trainers of his generation, Yorkshire-born Mark Tompkins has been a leading figure at Newmarket for more than 30 years. He has trained over 1000 winners Flat and Jumps and enjoyed Classic success when Bob’s Return won the St Leger in 1993. One of the great innovators, Mark takes a great interest in the futures of his former stars and keeps a regular update of their progress on his website.

Venetia WrigleyVenetia Wrigley

Venetia has ridden and been involved with horses all her life.  She has followed racing (mostly flat) from a young age, bred and partly trained a point-to-point winner and then rode out for Richard Fahey for 7 years in her late fifties and taken part in two charity races. Her interest in ‘what happens to horses after their racing career’ was triggered by a horse her husband Nicholas owned when it ended up accidentally in the wrong place. Luckily, she sat next to BTRC Chair John Sexton at Lunch at Cartmel shortly after this incident who solved the problem and since then Nicholas and Venetia have sent four horses to the BTRC and they have all been successfully retrained.

Lord ZetlandThe Right Honourable the Marquess Of Zetland

Lord Zetland has been involved in racing for many years as an owner and official. A member of the Jockey Club since 1982, he was a founder director of the British Horseracing Board (now the BHA) when it was set up to run British racing. He has a long-standing association with Redcar and as a director of International Racecourse Management is involved with Catterick, Thirsk and Wetherby as well as helping the development of racing internationally. He has supported BTRC from the early days.


John Sexton, Chairman

John Sexton joined the BTRC Board in 2009 and became Chairman in August, 2015. John spent much of his working life in horse racing journalism and is a former Racing Journalist of the Year and served as President of the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association for 10 years to 2004. John also provides the PR and raceday presentations for Cartmel Racecourse.


Along with Chair, John Sexton, the BTRC is governed by a Board of Trustees. The present Board consists of 6 members:

  • Barbara Bell
  • Michael Davis
  • Michelle Metz
  • Susan Scott
  • Keith Thomas
  • Philip Woodcock-Jones