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Christmas is the busiest time of the year for horse racing

While many of us will be enjoying the excesses of the festive season - and then sleeping them off - there'll be plenty of sportsmen and women who'll be working through Christmas. Footballers have matches to prepare for on Boxing Day.

And in racing it's one of the busiest times of the year. Stable staff across the country will be setting their alarms early on

On Christmas Day the horses still have to fed and exercised. And there are nine meetings across the country on Boxing Day.

Chris Maughan has been to one yard where they're hoping a big race favourite will deliver a festive winner.

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Tributes paid to Hampshire horse trainer Toby Balding

Balding was awarded an OBE in 2012 Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive

The racing world is in mourning for Toby Balding, the racehourse trainer from Hampshire who has died aged 78. He was one of the few in the profession to have won the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle. He was based at Fitfield near Andover.

Lambourn Valley stables open their doors to the public

Thousands are expected at stables across Berkshire to meet race horses and their trainers Credit: ITV Meridian

Over 10,000 people are expected to meet race horses and trainers in Berkshire today.

Stables throughout the Lambourn Valley have opened their doors to the public so they can get an unique insight into how the racing industry really works.

Many of the stables have special exhibits and some demonstrations, including horses using hydrotherapy pools.

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Amateur jockeys race against the weather

Having been delayed by the weather in recent weeks, today marked a new sporting season for amateur horse racing.

The first of the year's Point-to-Point meetings was held in Kent with jockey Nick Pearce chasing his 100th win. Andy Dickenson speaks to him, Peter Webb, chairman of South East Point-to-Point, and 11-year-old winner Mary Ashby.

Plans unveiled for 75 mile endurance race starting and finishing at Newbury in 2014

Haafaguinea ridden by Ryan Tate (right) leads home Chapter Seven rand Voodoo Prince to win in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap Credit: David Davies/PA Wire
Jockey Frankie Dettori before the Dubai International Airport World Trophy during the Racing for Racegoers: Dubai Duty Free Weekend Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Managing Director Racecourse and Events, Stephen Higgins said, “We are very proud of our relationship with Arabian racing and are honoured to be playing a key role in next year’s World Arabian Horseracing Conference.

“The value of the Arabian races we will stage is significant by comparison with other major Arabian races in the UK and to be associated with a world first in the running of the proposed H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies CEIO 120km two star Endurance Ride. is a unique honour.”

Speaking in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, John Robertson a member of the Board of Directors of Endurance GB said, “We hope to be able to stage a race under FEI rules for international teams of five lady riders aged 14 and up with seven horses in which the top three will score.

“The race would be over 120k in four loops of varying distances, the longest being about 38k and the shortest would be about 20k and that will give is three vet gates and a finish. “This race represents a first for FEI, a first for Endurance GB and a first for the sport world-wide.”

World Arabian horse racing conference to reach its climax at Newbury

Plans for Newbury's involvement in the World Arabian Racing Conference were announced at the racecourse

The event which was launched in Abu Dhabi in 2010 under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and has since visited Holland (The Hague), Germany (Berlin) and France (Toulouse).

The World Arabian Horse Racing Conference next year will run over five days at the end of May. It will comprise three days of seminars in London followed by racing at Newbury on Saturday, 31 May and a proposed endurance ride from the racecourse on Sunday, 1 June.

His Highness Sheikh Mansoor, with the jockeys at Saturday's Arabian Race at the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend.

On the final day of the event in 2014 plans are being made for the first ever running of the H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies CEIO Two star 120k endurance race starting and finishing at The Racecourse and taking in the surrounding countryside.

The Racecourse Newbury is home to Arabian racing in the UK and in addition to providing the venue for the flagship Dubai International Arabian Race Day, also stages more single races on thoroughbred cards than any other course in Britain.

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