Simon Bailey

My role as Chaplain to the racing industry began in 2014. Racing Welfare and Sports Chaplaincy UK have been partners since 2000 and one of the reasons I enjoy the part I play in racing is down to the wide and varied support that Racing Welfare offers to stable and stud staff, young and old.

My earliest memory of horse racing came as an 8 year old, when Aldaniti, ridden by Bob Champion won the Grand National in 1981. Could this have shaped my career years later by seeing how injury and illness doesn't always need to stop you from succeeding against the odds?! For me, that's the best part of life - helping people to succeed in spite of the circumstances they are up against. Here's my latest column...... 

I write this blog today with mixed feelings.
 
On the one hand we have the excitement of another flat season about to start in Newmarket. It’s great to see the increase in activity on the course in the run up to the Craven meeting before we move onto the Guineas. With the sun out, the gallops are looking in good shape and it will be nice to see people on the racecourse that I haven’t seen over the winter months.
 
There’s also a sadness about this blog too. I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Bucknell after I arrived in Newmarket in 2014. It was early one morning that I took Jean up on her offer of a tour to watch the horses in training and then on to a few yards afterwards. Many, if not all of you knew Jean. From the days in the 70s when she made Newmarket her home, firstly in employment at Henry Cecil’s before going on to running her own gallops and yards tours business and then to the Jean that I knew. Keeping herself busy by waking early to watch the horses she loved on the gallops and occasionally commenting on the ones she thought would be the stars of the coming season. She didn’t have to go out of her way to help me and the more I recount this story to others the more I realise that I was not the only person she helped. Jean sought to pass on what she knew and loved to others who had a similar interest. A lot of people are thankful that she gave her time. She didn’t do it for any financial gain, just because she loved what she did. I will miss Jean, as many of you will miss her. You knew where you stood. If something needed saying, Jean would say it! My thoughts and prayers go out to her partner David, whom she looked after when it was needed and who, in turn looked after her. It will come as no surprise that Jean has planned her own funeral. On the 26th April the hearse will drive up the Bury Road at around 8.50/8.55 am.
 
So, if you happen to be in the area please give Jean a send off as she takes her final drive past the Limekilns. The thanksgiving service will be on the same day at 1.30pm in St Mary’s Church, Newmarket. Be great to see you all there if you can make it.
 
Now, I don’t intend to start a tipping service from this blog but I did notice the horse, the Jean Genie was running at Lingfield the day after Jean died. I’m not sure she would approve of my formula for picking horses but it couldn’t fail - could it?! Sometimes I just wish I’d put more than a couple of quid on. I’ll also be thanking Joe Fanning in person when I see him next. I hope she would 
 
But, on to this season. May I wish you all a great and enjoyable year. Newmarket trainers had much success last year and I hope that it continues into 2019.
 
Simon
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