Racehorse sanctuary risks closure as it struggles to meet crippling £250k running costs

  • One of the UK’s original racehorse rehoming charities could face closure in the next two months if they are unable to raise the funds to carry on.

    Graham Oldfield and Sue Collins started rehabilitating horses off the track 27 years ago, and founded their current charity, The Racehorse Sanctuary in 2005.

    In the face of escalating costs, they downsized from their Surrey based to a more affordable plot in Somerset 15 months ago. But despite reducing the number of horses in their care from 30 to 15, Graham said the charity is still fighting to make ends meet.

    “In an ideal world what we’re looking for is a fairy Godmother to give us enough to keep running or for someone who is prepared to give us premises on a peppercorn rent — we need somewhere, ideally in the south of England so we could still raise funds, with 12-15 boxes and sufficient acreage to cover that amount of horses.

    “Donations have been coming in thick and fast since we appealed on our Facebook page, people are doing their best, but in two months time the bank account will be empty.”

    A”difficult time for all charities” combined with a series of recent setbacks has left the sanctuary facing a deadline.

    “We hoped the move the to West Country would save us a great deal of money but the move itself was expensive and ate into our reserves,” Graham explained. “Although we have a lot of support, it does take time to re-establish after re-setting up.

    “We’ve had a shocking winter, which has meant more hay, feed, abcesses and vets’ bills and we also lost one of our major fundraising functions this year — our Christmas ball — when our sponsor dropped out.”

    Despite other fundraising efforts in the pipeline, the sanctuary’s running costs of around £250k a year are still proving hard to maintain.

    Around 4,000 horses leave the racing industry each year, and Graham said the charity was approached at least four or five times a week by people trying to find a home for them.

    “We have some oldies but nine out of 10 of our horses are rehomed, we aim to move them on so we are able to take more in,” he said. “We retain ownership of all the horses and we are very fussy before we allow a horse to go to a home, I carry out every single initial inspection myself and spend a great deal of time on the road.

    Continued below…

    Zara Tindall — and 14 other famous faces at the Cheltenham Festival this week

    It’s at the Cheltenham Festival (13-16 March 2018) that racing’s biggest fans can don some tweed and hope to slip

    “What we won’t do is work it on such a shoestring that the standard has to drop — we want everything done correctly and we don’t want to lower those standards”

    He added that he hoped to raise enough funds to finance the sanctuary for a year to give them “breathing space” or at the very least time to rehome the current horses for which they have a duty of care.

    Anyone wanting to donate to the The Racehorse Sanctuary can text HORS20 and an amount of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070. An example text would be: HORS20 £10, making sure to send this to 70070. Alterntively you can visit https://www.justgiving.com/racehorsesanctuary/donate

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday

    You may like...