Fancy taking a peek inside one of the country’s most historic racing stables?
Visitors to Sledmere House in Yorkshire can now tour the stables where the Sykes family bred some of the world’s most famous racehorses — including Spearmint, Straitlace, Scottish Union, Grey Momus and and Polly Agnes.
The stud was founded in 1801 by the first Sir Tatton Sykes (1772-1863) who tasted classic success with his homebred 1838 2000 Guineas winner Grey Momus.
But it was the next baronet, Sir Tatton (1826-1913) who has been credited with establishing the stud’s reputation as a top class equine nursery, breeding four classic winners — Doncaster (1873 Derby), Spearmint (1906 Derby), Mimi (1891 1000 Guineas and Oaks) and Disraeli (1898 2000 Guineas).
During its tenure as a successful commercial stud, buyers of Sledmere horses included the Queen and the Aga Khan, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth both visited the stud after the war.
It is now a long time since Sledmere’s heyday, but for the first time visitors can see the stables where these equestrian stars lived, the tack rooms and foaling box.
Historic objects relating to the stables are on display, such as the racing plates from some of Sledmere’s most famous horses, racing silks in the Sledmere colours of orange and purple, stud yearbooks and foaling tags.
There is also a horse-themed activity room for children and the stables contain displays about the building’s history, including a film of the 1913 Derby, during which suffragette Emily Davidson was fatally injured. Sledmere horse Craganour was first past the post in that race, but was later disqualified.
The stables’ new inhabitants – a thoroughbred racehorse, a small riding pony and a driving cob — will be on hand to meet, and visitors can watch them doing some of the traditional work they would have performed in a great country house.
The stables and the walled garden at Sledmere House are open from 10am-4pm every day except Monday. Admission is £6.50.