Woolly jumpers: watch Ascot’s racesheep train for glory

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  • Leaning out of his Land Rover with a watchful eye on his string is an iconic image of a trainer.

    But there is one tiny difference in these four-legged “athletes” he is preparing — breeding. Or more specifically, breed.

    Ascot racecourse has created the hilarious video of how “racesheep trainer” William Shepherd prepares for the race of the season — the Lamb National — ahead of the big day on 2 April.

    “You get used to the early starts — they are mad keen for it,” quips Mr Shepherd.

    “They just want to be off and out there, and I do too.”

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    Head groom Jess Shearman takes viewers behind the scenes in the working of the rather woolly yard.

    “I love it, don’t get me wrong they have their moments, especially coming up to a big raceday, but they are finely-tuned athletes,” she explains.

    “Things do get a bit tense as we get nearer the big day, well the gaffer’s won the big one at Ascot six times now. He’s a bit of a hero down there really. He still does get nervous.

    “The two we have this year are serious sheep — Rammy especially. He will be the favourite I think, and he deserves it.”

    Meanwhile on the gallops, the woolly jumpers show enormous amounts of scope as they cruise over the practice hurdles.

    Punters will have two chances to spot the bleating athletes in action as the crowd-favourite Lamb National runs twice on Ascot’s Spring Family Raceday.

    The six Herdwick sheep, including legendary favourites Red Ram and Mint Sauce, will spring across mini fences on the Queen Anne Lawns at 11am and 2.40pm.

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