Richard Huckle's Racecourse Dream Comes True
Secretly, it is every true horse racing fans dream to visit every racecourse in the UK before they hang up their binoculars for the final time. Few people have the determination and dedication to achieve that dream, but Bedford & District Racing Club Chairman Richard Huckle, born in 1947, has met his lifelong target and shares the experience below, with many of the badges from the year of his birth.
My Racing Life by Richard Huckle
Early inspiration Royal Ascot
Aintree Ascot Ayr Bangor Bath
My late father, who died in 1971 when I was 24 was, like me, mad on sport. He played football and cricket, I played football, squash and tennis. He was only able to see limited sport on television with BBC showing the main events during the sporting year. I can now watch everything the world of sport has to offer on a variety of media.

Derby Day at Epsom

Beverley Brighton Carlisle Cartmel Catterick
One thing, however, is pretty much the same now as it was in my father's day, and indeed for generations before him, our wonderful sport of horse racing. What aspect of life, let alone sport, can have the history, the traditions, the champions that go back hundreds of years? I remember well when Troy came from nowhere to win the 200th Derby by seven lengths in 1979 and that was over forty years ago!

With friends & Hollie at Newmarket

Chelmsford Cheltenham Chepstow Chester Curragh



Being the sportsman that he was, my dad liked a bet, so when we went on our annual family holiday to Yarmouth in September he took me to the races with him. I can just about remember sitting on top of the rails with my dad holding me as the horses flashed by. Closer to home he would take me to our local courses Huntingdon, or Brampton as it was known locally, and Newmarket.


Champions Day 2012                          Frankel's final race

Doncaster Down Royal Epsom Exeter Fairyhouse
So, by the time I reached double figures I already had an interest in racing, and as well as having the games Totopoly and Escalado, I invented my own games and still have them all in my garage.
Glorious’ Goodwood Wet Aintree
My elder cousin Dave was also into his racing so as I reached my teens I started to go with him to the likes of Ascot, Windsor, Newbury and Newmarket. I then managed to get myself a Saturday job in a local betting shop where I was the boardman, chalking up the prices as they changed. By now I was a massive racing fan with the likes of Ribot, Sea Bird, Arkle & Mill House competing for my attention with my other passion Arsenal football club.

'Arc' day at Longchamps

A cold day in Ireland
Fakenham Ffos Las Fontwell Goodwood Hamilton

I learnt to drive and passed my test soon after my 18th birthday and was able to use my father's car.
I became a regular at the big races at Newmarket and Ascot and was present to see the major successes of Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Mill Reef and Brigadier Gerrard; what a golden few years for flat racing that was! And Arsenal did the league and cup double!!

It was also the time my father died, so my trips to racing became less frequent as I looked after my mother, got together with my first wife Brenda, and took on a mortgage. We couldn't afford to go abroard for holidays, but whenever we were away I would try to work it that we would travel close to a racecourse. This meant I got to courses such as Newton Abbott, Devon & Exeter, Fontwell Park, Plumpton and my first trip to one of my subsequent favourites, Goodwood.

With Arkle at Cheltenham

Haydock Hereford Hexham Huntingdon Kelso

I still managed to get to the races on my own in the 80's or with various friends, and was present at big successes for Shergar, El Gran Senor, Dancing Brave and probably my favourite horse of all time Desert Orchid. My daughters Kathryn and Fliss were born in 1978 and 1985, so when I took Kathryn with me to Kempton Park in February1990 she must have been 12. It was the day Desert Orchid recorded his highest ever rating by giving masses of weight away to win what was then called the Racing Post Chase? As the race was about to start I said to Kathryn 'let's go and stand next to that tall guy over there to watch the race' After the race, we walked alongside the tall guy, owner Richard Burridge, as we led Dessie into the winners enclosure to rapturous applause.

With Dessie and Kauto at Kempton

Kempton Leicester Leopardstown Lingfield Ludlow

Another memorable occasion for me was when Lester Piggott came to my town of Biggleswade to open a new Corals Betting shop and locals were invited to meet him. I went along and took with me the racecard from the day he won the King George V1 & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Nijinsky. In his surprise I’m not sure what he mumbled, but he signed the card for me.

I have kept every racecard from every race meeting I have attended. When Huntingdon staged the 50th running of The Peterborough Chase I supplied them, for display on the day, with some of  my racecards which included runners such as Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid, Remittance Man, Edredon Bleu and Best Mate. They returned them with thanks.

Sandown – one of my favourites

Market Rasen Musselburgh Newbury Newcastle Newmarket

After I split up from my first wife I met, and in 1996, married my present wife, Alison. She had moved into the area as head of PE at a local school and joined our local tennis club where I was the Chairman. We travelled extensively throughout Britain and started taking in many of the northern and western racecourses. We would stay a couple of nights and then discover the local area. Our country has such lovely countryside and has so much to offer, and travelling to racecourses enabled us to see parts of the country we probably wouldn't have visited otherwise.

I had started to realise that I had been to well over half the 61 courses (that's including the now closed Folkestone and Towcester) and would like to see how many I could do. We embarked on longer trips to South Wales for Chepstow and Ffos Las, and to Scotland for Musselburgh and Kelso. We had previously done Ayr whilst visiting friends. We gradually knocked them off the list until I realised that there were only five remaining. This is when I decided that I wanted to try to complete the set before my 70th birthday on 16 April 2017.

With Lester at Biggleswade Corals

Newton Abbot Nottingham Perth Plumpton Pontefract

Meanwhile I wanted to continue making sure I went to see the star horses live. In recent years I have seen Kauto Star and Sprinter Sacre putting in brilliant performances over the jumps, and managed to see the mighty Frankel in his stable with Sir Henry Cecil, and four times on the track, including the surreal 2,000 Guineas and the emotional Champion Stakes victories.
We have also been to Punchestown to see the mare Quevega, and to Longchamp to see Golden Horn and Frankie winning the Arc De Triomphe

So, there were only five remaining, but they were Bangor, Sedgefield, Hexham, Hamilton and Perth. I had dragged my wife all over Britain to the various courses, but this required co-ordinating, as time was running out. Therefore, we had to make a plan and first stop was a stay in the lovely town of Shrewsbury with a trip over the border to the course with no stand, Bangor. Next was a long drive up to Sedgefield where it was wet and windy and there was hardly anyone there. To take in the two Scottish courses we flew to Edinburgh then hired a car. We stayed in Perth and along with the racecourse we managed to visit Pitlochry, The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies before staying in Glasgow and going to Hamilton prior to returning to Edinburgh.

Then Hexham was the only one left, and it was March, so only a month before my birthday deadline. We decided to stay in a riverside hotel in Newcastle and take the local train to the course. Whilst sitting on the station I saw another guy with a Racing Post in his hand, so inevitably, as racing people do, we got talking, Hexham was one of his three remaining courses and my last. It was a lovely train journey along the River Tyne and then a quaint little station at Hexham. From there we caught the racing bus to 'Britains Most Scenic Racecourse' although the weather was too murky to form an opinion on that.  Part way through the afternoon there was a loudspeaker announcement 'would the Huntingdon Member here today, please come to the racecourse office' Realising they must be talking about me I duly went along and found that the guy on the station, Gerry, had told the management it was my last course. They said the sponsor for the final race was not present, so would I like to present the winning owners with their trophy. Of course, I accepted but insisted that Gerry stood beside me. What an honour on the final race at my final course!

Sir Henry & Frankel at Warren Place

Taking over the Chairmanship from Howard Wright at the Racing Club

Punchestown Redcar Ripon Salisbury Sandown

Less than a month later I was at Huntingdon races with all my family for hospitality and a race sponsored for my 70th birthday 'The Richard Huckle is 70 Handicap Chase' The race was won by a horse owned, trained and ridden by the Skelton family, so along with Alison and my daughters Kathryn & Fliss, we presented the trophy to a syndicate run by Nick Skelton. I said to Alison afterwards 'did you realise the guy standing next to you won an Olympic Gold Medal?'

In February 2018 we went to Ascot for The Ascot Chase when that very popular chaser Cue Card just failed to win the race for the third time. Whilst there, Paddy Power was running an amateur commentator competition for the public. I hadn't tried this since, as a little boy, I entered a local carnival talent contest and gave a commentary on The Grand National. Apparently, I kept saying 'and they are up and over' The video selected was the final 3 fences of The Ascot Chase from 2013 when Cue Card first won it. I recognised all the horses by their jockey colours, gave it a go and to my surprise a few days later was contacted to say I had won. That was great, but the prize even better, as my wife and I were given a VIP trip to the Paddy Power Box at The Emirates Stadium for Arsene Wenger's last home game before leaving Arsenal.

Part of Owners Group syndicate

Sedgefield Southwell Stratford Taunton Thirsk

My favourite days racing since then was when Enable beat Crystal Ocean in that pulsating finish to the 2019 King George V1 & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. What a fabulous filly she was on the course and I’m looking forward to her first offspring by Kingman who I saw win The Sussex Stakes in 2014.

Although it doesn't happen so much now, racecourses were always pleased to give you a badge on entry and I have always collected mine. If badges were not given I would go into the racecourse office and chat the staff up until they gave me an owners or trainers badge. In my office at home I have all 61 badges mounted within two large frames.

I also have books on my favourite horses, jockeys, trainers, writers, racecourses, races etc

I have a very tiny share in a number of horses within The Owners Group

Back in 2016 I was asked if I would take over as Chairman of The Bedfordshire & District Racing Club and I am still in that position now. It's a privilege to run a successful club with over 100 members, all people who like me love horse racing.

Thank you, Dad, for introducing me my lifelong hobby and the wonderful times it has given me.

With Alison & my daughters Kathryn & Fliss at my sponsored race
Towcester Uttoxeter Warwick Wetherby Wincanton

Tattersalls:-Not buying!

Richard, with his complete set of badges and Huntingdon racecard Completing the set – March 2017
Windsor Wolverhampton Worcester Yarmouth York

If, like Richard, you have managed to visit every racecourse in the country and would like to share your experience and provide photos then contact

© John Slusar 2023