Near misses prompt rider’s call for safer road crossings in Newmarket

  • A Newmarket-based rider is pushing for safer crossings on the town’s roads after numerous close calls with traffic.

    Rosie Margarson, who rides for her father, trainer George Margarson, shares lighthearted daily hat-cam videos of the antics of her thoroughbred Caribbean Spring (“Bean”) from their morning rides.

    But as well as the fun, her hat-cam also captures the realities of the risks horses and riders face from drivers, even though the only occasions they are on the road is using dedicated crossings between horse walks.

    Rosie Margarson is pushing for more safety measures in Newmarket

    Rosie Margarson (pictured, front). Credit: Michael Smithson.

    Rosie explained while Bean can be a character on the heath, he behaves on the roads, and documenting their daily rides hit home to her just how frequently they were encountering scares while on, or joining, crossings.

    “It had never really bothered me until I watched the footage back [each day] and realised how many close calls I was having — it’s not right,” Rosie told H&H.

    “When you think of the thousands of other horses in Newmarket, whose riders aren’t wearing cameras… it’s happening all the time.”

    Rosie added that the Pegasus crossings, including one installed in 2019 on the fast Cambridge Road, are great — although she has still had incidents of drivers running the red lights at these.

    She said better signage and more education of drivers would help keep everyone safer.

    “For us in Newmarket, there’s a serious lack of signage,” she said. “Where I cross at St Mary’s Square, there’s not a single sign or early warning to people that there are horses crossing. We ride upsides the traffic, so there’s no way they can’t see us. However, there is no early warning and it is effectively a blind bend, so people often have to slam on the brakes when they get there.”

    It was here last week that a lorry did not stop as riders were about to step on to the crossing. Days later, a car passed under Bean’s nose while they were half-way across the road, and these are far from isolated incidents.

    Rosie said at a crossing on Fordham Road, the “dinger” that riders hit to activate the crossing is glitchy. This means when riders get round the corner and to the edge of the road, by which time the lights should have changed, they often find traffic is still moving.

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    She has recently launched a Government petition, calling for the driving test to examine candidates on how they would approach any situation involving a horse, ridden or loose.

    “If they do not show they know how to safely do so this should be deemed a serious or dangerous fault, and they should not be given their license,” the petition states.

    Rosie’s videos are also making an impact — the managing director of the firm whose lorry failed to stop called her to apologise, and sent Bean a hamper of treats.

    Rosie said the firm has gone “over and above” and is changing its handbook so drivers are better educated about the horse situation in Newmarket.

    This includes a map of all the horse crossings in the town, which she suggested is something the Jockey Club could also frequently share with local businesses, by way of reminding the wider public where to be prepared to stop for horses.

    Rosie added that she has contacted the council “more times than she can count” as well as her local MP Matt Hancock, and is in frequent contact with the Jockey Club. She also reports all incidents on the British Horse Society (BHS) app, which she encourages others to do as well, and the police, when appropriate.

    “Someone has to pick this up and try to do something before it’s too late,” she said, adding she decided that person might as well be her and is encouraging others to do the same.

    “Using the BHS app only takes two minutes and if enough of us voice concern about an area, it will help as it shows there’s a problem.”

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