The Country Land and Business Association Visit BTRC

On Wednesday 22nd February BTRC welcomed Henk Geertsema, PR & Communications Manager at The CLA to Whinney Hill to learn more about the work rehabilitating, retraining and rehoming thoroughbreds.

Henk interviewed BTRC CEO Gillian Carlisle ahead of writing a feature article for the CLA Land and Business Magazine. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is the membership organisation for owners of land, property and businesses in rural England and Wales. The CLA exists to champion, protect and enhance the rural economy, environment and way of life. They aspire to unlock the potential of the rural economy by promoting innovative ideas to a national audience and providing practical support to members. BTRC are a long-standing member of the CLA.

Henk said of his visit “It was such a privilege to meet the super team at The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre – doing such worthy work is much respected. Super impressed by the team’s passion, friendliness and hard work. Now, I’ll have a massive challenge in writing a feature to do the Centre’s work justice!”

The feature is set to be published in the May edition of the magazine.

The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre Set to Become English Partner Venue for Scottish Racing Academy

A new partnership between the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre (BTRC) and the Scottish Racing Academy (SRA) will see the SRA delivering their education programme in England.

The Scottish Racing Academy already collaborates with multiple partners in Scotland to deliver qualifications and now, through the new partnership with BTRC, based in Lancashire, will be expanding to offer Scottish qualifications in England. The SRA was developed to assist with addressing the well-reported challenges associated with the attraction, recruitment and training of potential stable staff. The SRA are committed to providing inclusive opportunities, including entry level accredited learning and provide learner-centred training for those wishing to pursue a career in racing, as well as supporting people already working in the industry who wish to upskill their knowledge and expertise.

Continue reading “The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre Set to Become English Partner Venue for Scottish Racing Academy”

BTRC Shortlisted for Harry Hall Charity Partner

The nominations are in and BTRC have been shortlisted to become a Harry Hall Charity Partner in 2023. Please see below how to vote for us!

With over 5,000 nominations, the shortlist of 10 is revealed in the Harry Hall Charity partner campaign. In the last 2 weeks Harry Hall received thousands of nominations for charities big and small across the UK.Today the company announced the final 10 for the public vote. The three winners will be announced on the 23rd December and each will receive support for the duration of 2023.The 2023 Harry Hall Charity Partner Shortlist announcement

  • Save Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land
  • Hope Pastures
  • SAFE – Saving Abandoned Fly-Grazing Equines
  • British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre
  • Brooke Action for Working Horses & Donkeys
  • The Riding for the Disabled Association
  • Bleak Holt Animal Sanctuary
  • Prince Fluffy Kareem
  • Here4Horses
  • Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust

Harry Hall is now asking equestrians and horse lovers to vote for the charity they would like to receive support in 2023.

To cast your vote simply visit or place your vote via the Facebook page – search for @harryhallriding.

Voting closes on 22nd December and the 3 winners will be announced on the 23rd December.

“This year the nominations have come flooding in with over 5000 nominations received.  The equestrian community continues to humble us with their passion to help others said CEO Liz Hopper.

In December 2021, Hope Pastures, The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust and World Horse Welfare were voted to be the Harry Hall charity partners for 2022.  In a little over 2 years Harry Hall has donated over £30,000 to charity.

Harry Hall’s support pledge:

Anyone joining the Harry Hall One Club, taking out insurance or going shopping, either online or on the Harry Hall Riding App, will trigger a donation.

  • On every shopping order, new membership and new insurance placed * Harry Hall will donate 5p to the charity fund.
  • There will also be the option to donate at the checkout.
  • Harry Hall will donate unsold clothing, horse equipment and supplements ** to the chosen charities.
  • Twice during 2023 Harry Hall will double one month’s donation value.
  • Chosen charities will be featured in the HH1C magazine and they will be supported on social media and on the website.

Harry Hall is committed to helping others less fortunate than themselves and to supporting the causes that are important to Harry Hall One Club members, customers and the employees.

Christmas Office Hours 2022

Please note our office hours will be slightly different over the Christmas period, please see below. However we are still available 24/7 with our Vulnerable Horse Helpline for any Thoroughbred in need of help. Should you require this, please call 01524 812649 and await the voicemail.

Christmas Eve: Closed
Christmas Day: Closed
Boxing Day: Closed
Tuesday 27th: Closed
Wednesday 28th: Closed
Thursday 29th: Open 8am – 5pm
Friday 30th: Open 8am – 5pm
New Years Eve: Closed
New Years Day: Closed
Monday 2nd: Closed
Tuesday 3rd: Open normal hours onwards

Christmas Coffee Morning – Saturday 3rd December

🐎☕️🎄 Christmas Coffee Morning 🎄☕️🐎
Saturday 3rd December 11am – 1pm

Join us for the last visit of the year! Enjoy a stroll around the yard, meet the horses and watch the team at work rehabilitating & retraining our retired thoroughbreds, all whilst enjoying a hot drink and a mince pie! 🥧🤤

£10 adults & £5 under 16’s (includes tea/coffee and cake)

Booking is essential due to limited spaces, please email or call 01524 812649

Team Fanshawe Show Support for BTRC

As we continue our fight for funding we are so thankful to those who voice their support for BTRC and show their appreciation for the important work we do. Thank you to Jacko Fanshawe (James Fanshawe Racing) for writing the below letter to the Racing Post that was published 30 October 2022. The whole team at Fanshawe’s have been fantastic supporters of BTRC for many years and we are grateful of their continued support.

Hannah’s Marathon Makes a Difference for BTRC

Hannah with her medal and her BTRC loan horse Fruit & Nut.

We would like to a say a very big thank you and well done to loaner Hannah Tompkins, who ran the 2022 TCS London Marathon to raise funds for BTRC. Hannah completed the 26.2 mile course in 4 hours 36 minutes and 21 seconds! An amazing achievement for Hannah who is extremely busy working as a junior doctor and loaning BTRC Flo, how she found time for training we don’t know!

When choosing to run on behalf of BTRC Hannah said “I currently loan BTRC Fruit and Nut (Flo) from The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre (BTRC) and will be running the London Marathon on behalf of the BTRC. I’m 25 and working as a junior doctor in the East Midlands. I’ve been running long distances for over a year but this will be my first marathon. Having visited the Centre numerous occasions to try Flo, I can see the hard work and dedication the team have towards rehabilitating the horses. The rehoming process and vulnerable horses scheme shows how important it is to support the charity and how essential their work is to aid thoroughbreds leaving the racing industry. Wish me luck!”

Well, all the luck paid off and Hannah did a fantastic job. Hannah’s JustGiving page is still open if you wish to make a donation:

Or maybe you would like to take on your own fundraising challenge to raise much needed funds for BTRC. It could be a sponsored bike ride or sky dive or if you’re not up for the physical challenges why not hold a bake sale in aid of BTRC? Please get in touch with Lauren on and we can support you in your fundraising efforts.

BTRC Horses Shine at RoR Championships

We were delighted to have three BTRC horses compete at The Jockey Club RoR National Championships at Aintree Racecourse at the end of August, all coming away successful and happy with their performances. Read on below to hear how they got on:

BTRC Innocent Touch & Abigail

Loaner Abi took BTRC Innocent Touch on loan in August 2021 and since then Abi has continued to produce IT to a high standard.
Eleven-year-old Innocent Touch was awarded 2nd place in the Longevity Class and was also invited to take part in the ‘Always a Star’ Parade in the Saturday evening performance. On the track Innocent Touch was very successful and won over £50,000 for owners Nicholas and Venetia Wrigley.

Venetia, who was in attendance on the Saturday evening said, “Seeing Innocent Touch at the ROR Championships at Aintree was absolutely wonderful – he looked absolutely fantastic, performed very well and is clearly a much loved horse who is relishing his new role. When he was in training with Richard Fahey, I rode him every day. He looked after me going up the gallop every time – even if he did grab me by the back of my back protector and lift me up in the stable when I arrived to tack him up!”
“BTRC have done a brilliant job retraining him and they have found him a truly wonderful home. I am so glad that I sent him there as it has been a perfect outcome – I do hope more people will support this very special establishment that looks after the horses first and foremost – ensuring that these animals who give so much pleasure while they are racing, are placed with new owners who understand the needs of thoroughbreds. The aftercare by the BTRC is second to none – no horse that they retrain ends up starving in a small paddock by a busy road – abandoned because he or she is no longer wanted. It is a very special organisation.”

Abigail said “He was an absolute superstar, I’m so pleased with how he’s taken to the show ring in his 4 shows this year. We are looking forward to training over the Winter and maybe mix things up with some dressage/jumping.”

BTRC Ideal Recruit and Rebecca

BTRC staff member Rebecca took Ideal Recruit (Rio) on loan in November 2021 after falling in love with him at work. Rebecca has slowly and correctly worked with Rio, who is 9 years old, to build his confidence in order to start enjoying local competitions and training clinics. They have such a special bond and this has proven with their success over the summer.

Rebecca said “We’ve had the best time at Aintree for The Jockey Club RoR National Championships. Two super 6th places in competitive classes against some really nice horses. So proud of my little superstar, for his first summer out competing I couldn’t ask anymore.”

BTRC Hailing Park & Rachel

Rachel has had BTRC Hailing Park on loan since early 2016 and over the years they have had some great success at many different disciplines. At the RoR National Championship 2022 they competed in two classes, ‘One for the girls’ and ‘Veteran’ in hand showing and won not one but both classes!

The previous week they were placed 3rd in the Open In Hand Show Series Final to secure their ticket for the 2023 RoR Championships despite being the only mare and veteran in a big open class. The horses that placed higher than her were 10 and 12 years her junior as Hailing Park is now 16 years old.

Hailing Park had an injury to her left foot in May 2022 and Rachel has done a fantastic job rehabbing her to get her back into competitive work ready for the end of the showing season and it has certainly paid off!

Information on the BTRC Funding Crisis

Click the FAQ’s below to read the answers:

Background Information
The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre (BTRC) was established in 1991 and from then until 2000 the charity was funded directly by their charitable activities and public donations. In 2000 the racing industry recognised the importance of BTRC’s work and the need to provide a safety net for retired racehorses. The industry therefore established the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR). This charity was to focus on supporting retired racehorses including providing funds for centres that housed and rehabilitated horses that were found to be in a vulnerable state. The RoR collected the funds from stakeholders within racing and distributed this money to the charities that were providing the care for retired racehorses in the Vulnerable Horse Scheme (VHS). From 2001- 2014 BTRC received quarterly payments averaging £85k annually.
In 2015, the RoR introduced a new funding mechanism for centres who cared for Thoroughbreds in the RoR’s VHS. The funding changed from the standard quarterly payments which were in place from 2001 to payments per horse and each centre was required to sign a new contract. Although BTRC had concerns the charity signed a contract on the basis that they would be given the opportunity to discuss any issues at the time of the contract renewal.

Why is BTRC in a funding crisis?

BTRC has been an established charity for over 30 years and for 26 of those years the Centre had a sustainable funding model until the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) imposed changes in 2015 to the industry funded RoR Vulnerable Horse Scheme (VHS) that acts as a safety net for any retired racehorse that falls on hard times.

The whole dispute started due to these changes and BTRC having equine welfare and operational concerns (further information in question 2) regarding the RoR’s VHS.

The BTRC stopped receiving funding from RoR to care for vulnerable Horses in June 2018.*

The Centre has continued to operate and provide care for over one hundred vulnerable horses since that time by utilising its charitable reserves that have been maintained – in line with good practice – over the last 26 years. However, these reserves are now depleted and BTRC urgently need funding.

It should be noted that during the COVID-19 crisis BTRC received financial support from the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the Racing Foundation Covid-19 relief fund – we are extremely thankful to the industry for this support.

*Apart from one back payment in 2020 for vulnerable horses BTRC assisted between 2015-2018, a grant for temporary stables and a 12-month £50,000 loan repayable at the end of 2022.

Why did BTRC not sign a further contract with RoR to care for vulnerable horses in 2018?

BTRC did not sign a new updated contract in 2018 due to equine welfare and operational concerns.

Equine Welfare: BTRC believed the contract was flawed and the T&Cs could lead to equine welfare issues. In BTRC’s opinion the contract:
• Lacked sufficient checks and monitoring of horses that were being funded by the industry.
• Was not sufficiently robust and that “loop-holes” and the “perverse incentives” could be exploited.
• Unqualified individuals were being given funding to care for vulnerable horses.
• Commercial horse dealers, retrainers and individuals were profiting from the scheme. As the RoR permitted these vulnerable horses to be sold therefore these individuals were technically being paid twice per horse – once for taking it and then again by selling it. By selling these horses it could mean that that a horse could become vulnerable again in the future and be passed around from pillar to post. Commercial operations have different incentives to charities.
• RoR will only support a Thoroughbred if it has been in training, they do not recognise all Thoroughbreds. BTRC believes all Thoroughbreds that are bred for the sport of racing should be supported if they are found in a vulnerable state.
• The contract limited financial support to 15 horses per year even though the BTRC could help more than double that number.

Operational concerns:
• BTRC was not, in their opinion, given sufficient time and support to change a funding model that had been in place for 15 years from 2001-2015.
• BTRC is unique in the size of operation and moving from regular payments to ad hoc payments was problematic and difficult to manage cashflow and forecast a budget.

In short, BTRC sought to have higher standards, more frequent checks and that those being entrusted with vulnerable horses were qualified professional individuals whose work could be correctly monitored and ultimately be accountable for the horses in their care. BTRC highlighted their concerns to RoR at the time. However, although they were acknowledged, they were not acted upon and the contract was not substantially changed.

Unfortunately, in 2018 BTRC’s worst fears become reality when Anette Nally an individual who was on the approved RoR rehoming list for vulnerable horses and who had received £5,000 in 2017 and a further £8,500 in 2018 from RoR to care for vulnerable horses, was arrested and subsequently jailed for 26 weeks after she was found guilty of animal cruelty and neglect of horses in her care, including six ex-racehorses. ( This sad event proved the BTRC’s concerns regarding the RoR VHS were legitimate, but still no changes were made.
More recently, there is evidence of horses going through the system and being sold without the correct clinical and physical assessments to determine whether they are suitable for a career as an equestrian horse and therefore ending up once again being vulnerable.

Why has it taken four years for BTRC to react?

BTRC have worked closely with the Racing industry and patiently waited for:

• BHA to recruit a Director of Equine Health and Welfare
• Cheltenham review to be completed
• Goodfellow aftercare funding review to be completed
• Equine Flu crisis to pass
• Horse Welfare Board to be established
• Horse Welfare Board strategy ‘A Life Well Lived’ to be published
• Kirby aftercare review to be completed
• Aftercare Funding review to be published
• COVID-19
• RoR to deliver the Aftercare funding recommendations
• Horse Welfare to recruit an Aftercare Project Lead
• RoR to deliver the Aftercare funding recommendations for a second time

It can be argued that BTRC should have given up waiting well before now, but the charity honestly believed, and were repeatedly given reassurances from the racing industry that racing would eventually sort everything out and BTRC just had to be patient.

However, over four years have passed and still Britain does not have a published aftercare funding strategy. Unlike all the other top jurisdictions around the world who have an aftercare funding strategy in place.

Why have BTRC suddenly decided to go public?

BTRC believed that the racing industry wanted to work with them to help deliver the Aftercare recommendations and in particular to protect vulnerable Thoroughbreds. But on 26th July 2022, in a meeting with the RoR and in the presence of the Horse Welfare Board, BTRC presented all of the different activities they currently deliver including their:

• Vulnerable Horse Programme
• 24/7 emergency helpline
• Rehabilitation and retraining programme for horses straight off the track
• Extensive national and international work placement programme
• Educational work including visits to colleges and Universities
• Community engagement including visits to nursing homes and schools

BTRC also included further income generating opportunities and ways in which BTRC could diversify to become more sustainable. However, RoR rejected funding any of BTRC’s activities and explained there was nothing that the BTRC currently offers, or could offer in the future, that the RoR or the British Racing Industry needs and therefore no funding would be available.

On 3rd August 2022, BTRC’s Board of Trustees met with the Horse Welfare Board and they confirmed that the RoR and industry could not support the Centre.

On 5th August 2022, BTRC published a Press Release from BTRC’s Chairman, John Sexton regarding the funding crisis.

Why has the BTRC remained silent since publishing the initial information on the crisis?

BTRC’s Chairman published a press release on 5th August and a statement on the 12th August, BTRC received notification that RoR were seeking to take legal action against BTRC.

For 31 years, the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre has always put the interests of the horses first. Every penny the Charity receives is spent with the one and only aim of helping vulnerable thoroughbreds.

This mission has provided more than 1,000 horses with a chance they might otherwise have been denied, and a lifelong safety net, but it has also landed us in a challenging situation as the industry has now suggested that we fund our activities by diversifying. If we do not become self-funding we die.

As, over recent weeks all avenues of support were closed to us and even our offers of how we might best diversify were rejected, we were left with no option other than to draw public attention to our financial plight in the hope that with your help we might Save The BTRC.

We have been gratified by the support we have received, both from people within the racing industry and outside it and hope that by withdrawing the Press Release and statement as a goodwill gesture then we can bring a speedy end to the threat of legal action and so ensure that no charitable funds are wasted on fighting legal battles and prevent racing’s reputation being damaged any further.

What is BTRC doing to resolve the situation so that the Charity can continue its vital aftercare work?

BTRC are currently working with the industry to find a solution to the funding problem.

The BTRC Petition ( has 35,000 signatures [at the time of writing] supporting that the British Racing Industry should provide adequate funds to BTRC. This proves that the public care about retired racehorse welfare and it is now time for Aftercare funding to become the top priority for Racing.

Racing discusses how the horse and jockey are equal athletes and racing is a partnership between the two. However, the industry has THREE purpose built rehabilitation centres for jockeys/staff; Oaksey House in Lambourn, Jack Berry House in Malton and Peter O’Sullevan House in Newmarket, but the racehorse has ZERO.

Furthermore, racing welfare and other charities provide mental and physical health care to retired racing staff that fall on hard times, but again zero for retired horses.

The BTRC has offered its facilities to the racing industry, to become that purpose-built facility, for retired racehorses, but the industry has turned its back opening the sport to the charge that racehorses and jockeys/staff are NOT treated equally, and the industry is still exploiting the horse and refusing to invest in aftercare in a meaningful way.

However, Britain will never have a constant, sustainable and operational funding strategy until there is stakeholder agreement on how that money is to be spent via a transparent and accountable aftercare framework including both promotional and welfare activities.

In the opinion of BTRC, it is now time for Aftercare funding to become the top priority for British Racing.

How can you help BTRC?

1.      Please pledge your support by signing our petition:

2.      Make a one off donation to our ‘Save the BTRC’ campaign to help us continue our vital work with horses:

3.      Become a Friend of the BTRC – make a regular monthly donation to the BTRC from a minimum of £1 a month up to whatever you want to give. Sign up here.

4. Follow us on social media: @thebtrc (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn)

Smiles at Summerhill Care Home thanks to BTRC My My & Washbear

BTRC My My & Washbear visited the residents of Summerhill Care Home in Kendal on August 5th on what was a beautiful, sunny day.

This was the first time BTRC My My (11 year old, ran 10 times and trained by John Feane Racing) had been out on a visit and he was fantastic, so calm and quiet as he strolled around the garden stopping to meet each and every resident and putting huge smiles on their faces.

Some of the residents had their families visiting as well so it was great to chat to the families and learn more about the people we were meeting.

One resident said “I’ve had a great day, the horses are absolutely lovely, thank you so much.”

These visits are so important to the work of BTRC as they give our horses a purpose and they bring so much joy to the community. It is vital we continue to work together for the benefit of retired racehorses and the local community.

Summerhill Resident Liaison Officer Sean Moore said “Thanks again to the BTRC for visiting, the residents loved it and have been telling all their families.”

If you would like BTRC to visit a care home or youth group/home please contact Lauren on 01524 812649 or