Actress Dame Judi Dench has taken up a new role as principal patron of the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre (TRC).

The centre is the biggest in Britain dedicated to the retraining and rehoming of ex-racehorses to give them happy and useful lives once their racing days are over.

Dame Judi, who co-owned the 2008 Lincoln handicap winner Smokey Oakey (pictured above), takes over as principal patron from long-time supporter Sir Peter O’Sullevan, who died last year.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be asked to become principal patron of the TRC in succession to Sir Peter,” she said. “He will be a very hard act to follow.

“The centre does very important work finding homes and futures for retired racehorses. While my work takes me to many different places and countries, so that I can never be sure where I will be at any given time, I hope there will be opportunities for me to attend some of the events as the centre celebrates its silver jubilee”.

John Sexton, chairman of the TRC, added: “It is fantastic to have Dame Judi supporting our work. She is a much-loved and well respected actress with a love of the horse.

“We wondered how we could possibly follow Sir Peter, who was an amazing supporter of the centre and the work done here, but I feel sure he would be delighted to have a successor like Dame Judi.”


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The centre has also appointed 10 ambassadors:

  • Rose Paterson, the chair of Aintree racecourse
  • Charlie Lawson, actor
  • Frankie Dettori and John Reid, jockeys
  • Mark Tompkins, Newmarket trainer
  • Lee Hackett, British Horse Society director of equine policy
  • The Marquess of Zetland, owner
  • Gordon Sidlow, thoroughbred vet
  • Louise Owen, wife of owner Michael Owen
  • Dinah Nicholson, widow of former leading National Hunt trainer David Nicholson