By Graham Thomas
Heroes of a different kind will be honoured at Chepstow Race Course later this year.
As well as the normal parade of winning horses and their jockeys, the course will salute both serving and former members of the military with the inaugural Chepstow Military Race Day.
The event – on November 18 – is certain to be a big attraction for all those wanting to support the efforts of the armed forces as well as the committed work of those who care for them in later years.
Building on the success of previous SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity – Race Day events, which began in 2013, the new Chepstow Military Race Day will offer free entry to all service personnel, past and present.
There will be six competitive races, with sponsorship of each contributing to funds raised on behalf of three chosen military charities – Combat Stress, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, and SSAFA.
The event will be run in association with BATTLESPACE Publications, the driving force behind the first armed forces race day event nine years ago.
Watering ahead of our next meeting on Monday 20th June – tickets just £15 in advance! First race 1.05pm. pic.twitter.com/2NtgDAWp0C
— Chepstow Racecourse (@Chepstow_Racing) June 15, 2022
So far, the race events have proved hugely successful and raised £190,000 through race sponsorship, charity lunches, business awards and auctions.
Julian Nettlefold, publisher of BATTLESPACE, said: “We are delighted that Chepstow has decided to expand our raceday to include free entry to all service personnel.
“The importance of all military charities to maintain the well-being of veterans and their families is an invaluable contribution to the country.
“So often, soldiers, sailors and airman leave the services and find themselves stranded in the sea of life and often end up in prison or hospital.
“As the son of a wounded veteran, I have seen how a loving wife can contribute to the well-being of a wounded veteran, making his life bearable.
“These forgotten people, like my mother, are left in the background when they should have full recognition for their long-suffering service to the veteran and his family.”
We are honoured to be hosting Chepstow Plant International’s annual Royal Ascot charity lunch in aid of @noahsarkcharity @ChepstowPlant – 300 guests enjoying Ladies Day for a wonderful cause. pic.twitter.com/MoxRYi5EIW
— Chepstow Racecourse (@Chepstow_Racing) June 16, 2022
It was Mr. Nettlefold’s mother, Angela, who provided the initial inspiration behind a day of racing to honour both the military and those who provide care.
The Angela Nettlefold Memorial Race became the SSAFA Race Day, which has now expanded again to become this autumn’s Chepstow Military Race Day.
Last year, a group of uniformed Chelsea Pensioners attended and were given a rousing reception from 2,000 racegoers.
“Everyone cheered them and they were the real stars of the show around the parade ring and winners’ enclosure that day,” added Mr. Nettlefold.
“This year, we are aiming to make this expanded event even bigger and better.”
Chepstow executive director Phil Bell said: “Race days are the perfect vehicle to raise money for charity.
“At Chepstow, together with a wide range of charities we have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds via race day events over the years.
“We wanted to recognise the contribution military personnel – both serving and retired – have made and continue to make for the UK.
“We are in the fortunate position to be able to offer an enjoyable social occasion for people from all walks of life and this initiative with the military is one of many community partnerships we have underway.
“We have worked with Julian for a number of years and we are looking forward to working together to raise significant amounts of money for Combat Stress, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, and SSAFA.”