Hitched on horseback… couple wed on the racetrack

  • Ever dreamt of galloping off into the sunset with your other half? That’s exactly what one newly-wed couple chose to do on their special day at Musselburgh racecourse last week (Thursday, 30 July).

    Army doctor major Chris Baird-Clarke and his wife Shelley tied the knot at the East Lothain racecourse while astride their horses.

    MUSSELBURGH WEDDING 007Assistant registrar Jan Boyd oversaw the wedding vows in a ceremony held at the winning post in front of guests and the couple’s two-year-old son Alex.

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    The couple then took Irish draught, Rosie, and Arab, Mimi, for a gallop up the home straight and past the winning post.

    It is believed the wedding is the first of its kind in Scotland.

    Chris donned family tartan trews and Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and Shelley wore a traditional-style ivory wedding dress.

    MUSSELBURGH WEDDING 034During a three-year posting with The Royal Scots in Edinburgh, Chris would frequently go racing at Musselburgh.

    Shelley, who rehabilitates horses, said she is “thrilled” that the racecourse gave them the go ahead.

    Shelley said: “It is the second time married for both of us and we wanted to do something out of the ordinary, which was just for us, and this was perfect.”

    The newly-weds are also celebrating Chris’ promotion to lieutenant colonel as head of defence occupational medicine for the army in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Chris has served in Iraq with The Royal Scots, including a seven-month stint near Basra during the second Gulf War.

    He has also served in Germany, Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

    He said they originally thought of getting married on the beach at Gullane and then having their reception at the racecourse.

    “We have been very impressed at how unbelievably hospitable and accommodating everyone has been in making this all come together,” he added.

    MUSSELBURGH WEDDING 038Musselburgh racecourse’s Aisling Thornton, said: “We do receive some left of centre requests from visitors to Musselburgh and we always do our best to accommodate within reason.

    “We are delighted that Chris and Shelley chose the racecourse to hold their wedding and hope the setting and special arrangements will bring happy memories for years to come.”

    Horse & Hound recommends all riders/handlers wear appropriate safety wear, including safety hat and appropriate footwear, whenever they are handling or riding horses.

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