A Colchester rider has become the first ever type 1 diabetic to obtain a racing licence.
From an early age, Colchester-based Hector Barr was set on following his father, Stephen, into point-to-pointing.
Hector grew up around horses on his family’s farm and was a member of the Essex and Suffolk Pony Club and a regular on the hunting field.
Stephen, also a diabetic, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 29 and gave up racing.
However, thanks to advancements in medicine, the condition is now more easily controllable and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) was recently able to give Hector his point-to-point licence.
The authority agreed a protocol for Hector to race and — provided he sticks to the requirements — he is passed fit to ride.
“With improvements in the understanding and management of diabetes it is increasingly recognised that it is possible for diabetic athletes to compete at high level,” said a BHA spokesman.
The BHA medical department worked closely with Dr Ian Gallen, a diabetologist with expertise in athletes with diabetes, to support Hector in gaining his licence.
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“We are delighted and we are very grateful to all at BHA and at Colchester General Hospital who have helped to make this happen,” said the Barr family, who train their point-to-pointers at home alongside their hunting and show horses.
“We think the racehorses benefit from our relaxed environment and enjoy the slow pace of life and we have been very pleased with the results in Hector’s first season.
“The horses and Hector have all returned home safe and will be back for the 2017/18 season.”