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Izzy Phillips: My Racing Life In Pictures

Izzy Phillips goes down memory lane and talks about her racing memories
Izzy Phillips goes down memory lane and talks about her racing memories

We'd like to offer a warm welcome to our new columnist Izzy Phillips, who is often seen in front of the camera for Raceday TV, but in her first piece for HorseRacing.net she focuses on her favourite memories in horse racing. Selecting some of her most personal and favourite pictures, she takes a look down memory lane and talks about her love for racing in a fascinating insight...

I’m always asked if I'm from a racing background and my answer is ‘no’ - I'm not from a racing family in the sense that no-one trained, owned or rode horses at a professional level. But, we are for all intents and purposes a racing family - like many across the country, in our family, Saturdays were for racing. I remember us all gathering at my grandparents' house: the early morning teletext pages to check the odds; the sound of the violins from the Channel 4 opening theme echoing through the house at about 7:30am for The Morning Line and again later on in the day for the main show. I can still hear the sounds of everyone going out into the kitchen to put their bets on; even today, I could recite my Dad’s betting account number off by heart.

However, at 21 years of age I lost my Grandad and that left a hole. I found that I didn’t have loads of friends that were into racing and I wanted to find more like-minded people to share in my love of this wonderful sport; so I created my Twitter account ‘The Racing Moment’. I’ve ended up posting quite a few of my racing pictures over that time and HorseRacing.net has given me the opportunity to tell you the stories behind them. Ever eager to post more pictures I’ve also included a few, from the camera roll, that never made it on to the gram!

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Grandad's Binoculars

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These are my most prized possessions. My Nan bought these binoculars for my Grandad from Boots, about 50 years ago and the phrase ‘they don’t make 'em like they used to’ springs to mind. They never make it on to a racecourse anymore because I'm so terrified of damaging or losing them. The binoculars symbolise such fond memories of family days out racing. My siblings and I would often be taken racing by my Dad, Grandad and Uncle. It was a family day out in the truest sense of the word. I used to like carrying Grandad’s binoculars. We’d often faction off as it would get so busy and each member of the family had a different activity to do. Some wanted to grab a drink, others were getting best odds out the front; my sister’s personal favourite was sitting around the parade ring. Without fail I'd always pair up with Grandad.

He had so much knowledge and honestly I attribute my love for the sport to him

I remember at Sandown we used to plan a little route from the parade ring; pit stop to get Grandad a bitter; pop a bet on; then up into the stands to watch. All the time I was asking about the badges and all the different race days he’d been on. He had so much knowledge and honestly I attribute my love for the sport to him. With Grandad I saw all the greats of my time - Kauto Star, Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card. One thing I always remember about Grandad would be him telling my Dad and Uncle about their ’old horses’. What I mean by this is he’d specifically tell my Dad every couple of months ‘your old Cue Card runs today’. What this meant was ‘a horse you like and usually back runs today’. I loved it. I wanted to be told about an old horse of mine that would be running. Then one day it finally happened. One Thursday I was around my grandparents; Grandad had bought The Weekender - he turned to me and said ‘your old [The] New One runs today’. I knew then that I'd made it. I was part of the ‘your old horse club’.

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RUK Tipstar Press Pass

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This is one of my earliest Twitter pictures, coming from way back in December 2017. When I opened my Twitter page I never dreamed of presenting. I was just happily Twittering away and then I saw the opportunity to enter the Racing TV (then RUK) TipSTAR competition. It was during the National Hunt season and I must admit I thought to myself ‘I usually do well on the jumps’. I love following the form and tracking the flight paths and prep runs to the big races at the Cheltenham Festival or Aintree.

When I got home I knew then I had the bug

So I thought i’d go for it. I never imagined my little video clips would get picked up - I thought there’d be thousands that know more than me but I had a couple of good weeks following the Twiston-Davies team and found myself a spot in the final. This was the press badge I was sent in the post. The day itself was incredible. I didn’t win but it was an unforgettable experience. I’d never been so nervous in my whole life and was physically shaking for some of the takes we had to do. Meeting Lydia Hislop was a real highlight; she was so calming also seeing up close what she does and how quickly she adapts. I was full of admiration. When I got home I knew then I had the bug - and as the weeks went on I really missed it. I felt like I wanted to be back in that sphere again with the opportunity to talk to some of the greats of the game. Luckily for me that became a reality later down the line.

My Maiden Raceday

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Never without drama - my first ever Raceday at Newbury and there’s a weather warning for snow. I live in the UK so I'm used to cold weather and being a bit of an Autumn girl I actually quite like it. But this was on another level. When I tell you that I have never been so cold in my life… I was manifesting physical pain. It all started with the incredible experience of going to watch Ahoy Senor fly the last fence, from the inside of the track, with David Crosse. I was not wearing appropriate footwear for this terrain and my feet got soaked crossing the track; they never recovered. They felt like giant slabs of concrete. It was baltic! We spent most of the day berating my co-presenter Aaron for not wearing socks and I honestly have no idea how he survived the whole day. I shiver just thinking about it!

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Han Solo!

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This picture is from my favourite day with Raceday - mainly because they trusted me to go it alone. I was meant to have another presenter with me, but circumstances meant they weren’t able to make it. I was quite panicked to begin with wondering whether they would cancel, never for a minute believing they would trust me to go for it. As the day went on I had the best time. We chatted to so many race goers who were having the most fabulous day out. I threw myself in and by about 4 o’clock I'd embarrassed myself on a mechanical horse.

I interviewed Harry Redknapp right before he won the lucky last with Moktasaab (who I've backed ever since just because of this). He was so gracious and great fun. What some of you may not know about the interview - but may be able to tell - is the mic lost charge! I’d gone so wild with it all day we didn’t have a moment to charge it. The panic that befell us right as we had Harry waiting to speak with us (i’ve added a picture of the exact moment). We just went for it anyway and he was great fun joking with us about a rumour that we’d seen his son Jamie at the Cheltenham sales a few weeks before.

Future Generations

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Future generations

It’s safe to say I love racing. I’ve always loved our family days out at the races but this year I wanted to try something different. One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to attend my first stable day. I did have plans to attend one sooner, but COVID had put a stop to that. This year I attended the Henry Cecil Open Weekend. We started on the gallops. A stunning crisp sunny morning seeing Baaeed canter down. I was also delighted to speak with Lady Cecil who was happily chatting to guests of the event.

Meeting all of the horses and the trainers in their yards was a beautiful experience. We went to the stables of: James Fanshawe, Godolphin retirement & Roger Varian. I took both of my nieces and they absolutely loved it. Seeing my eldest niece warm to the horses just as my sister had done all those years ago, around the parade ring at Sandown, I got a real sense of deja vu. My youngest niece was loving them too as she was pottering around Varian’s yard in her little yellow wellies. It wasn’t a day at the races however it further proved to me that racing really is a sport that brings people together and a special experience that I hope my nieces will always remember. 

I have a million other racing pictures, most of them really poor quality shots of horses on track. I’ll leave posting those to the professionals and sign off for now. Check back next week to hear about my time at the Cheltenham Showcase meeting.

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