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Martin Smith shows community spirit by offering to stable and care for horses

Newmarket trainer Martin Smith's Twitter profile
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Newmarket trainer Martin Smith has reached out to the equine community by offering to stable and care for horses who might be affected by the lockdown in Britain caused by the coronavirus.

Prime minister Boris Johnson on Monday night announced strict new measures in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has had a devastating impact on the world.

They include the closure of shops selling non-essential goods, people leaving their homes only if "absolutely necessary" and banning public gatherings of more than two people.

Trainers have been told they can continue to exercise their strings, albeit while observing social distancing rules.

Offering a hand of help to those potentially affected, Smith said in a Twitter video: "By now everyone has either seen the prime minister's announcement or heard about it and these are obviously worrying times. The country has never been on lockdown like this before and never seen anything like it.

"There's a lot going on and people aren't sure what to do. From our point of view, we want to do everything we can [to help] and the only thing we can do is when it comes to looking after horses.

"A lot of people have horses who are based far away and they won't be able to see them. We want to offer our help. We've got some empty stables and can take some horses in and look after them. We've even got some riders who can exercise them.

"As we're governed by the BHA, we do have some regulations we have to stick to. The horses we bring into the yard have to be covered by flu vaccine."

The dual-purpose Smith, who started training in 2013, having built up a wealth of experience around the world, including a two-year stint as clerk of the course at Jebel Ali racecourse in Dubai, added: "We've got the horsebox, which I can drive and I'll bring down myself.

"There'll be minimal contact with any other people and we've got a small, dedicated team who are brilliant at looking after horses.

"Our feed suppliers have assured us they'll keep supplying our feed and we've got loads of bedding already stored up, so there's nothing to worry about."

Smith is an active user of social media, which the Fergal O'Brien Racing account on Twitter also uses to help lighten the mood.

It posted a picture of the trainer jumping a schooling hurdle on Tuesday morning, although it might be fair to say he is not as slick as some of his string.

Like O'Brien, Martin Keighley – the father of two racing-mad boys - is based in Gloucestershire, where reports of the schooling – maths and English rather than fences and hurdles this time – is going well.

The racing show is being kept on the road in Ireland and dual-Grand National hero Tiger Roll's rider Davy Russell may have started a trend.

Rising star Ben Jones, who won the Ladbrokes Trophy on the De Rasher Counter, was another to get involved.

Read more

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From our point of view, we want to do everything we can [to help] and the only thing we can do is when it comes to looking after horses
E.W. Terms