Sarah Jane Matthews: A Passion for Racing

  • Sarah Jane Matthews
  • Sarah Jane Matthews
  • Sarah Jane Matthews
  • Sarah Jane Matthews
  • Sarah Jane Matthews

Photographer and joint chair / stable visit organiser for Cheltenham and Three Counties Race Club Sarah Jane Matthews on her passion for all things equine

My first racing memory of any kind is telling my father that Red Rum was going to win The Grand National for the 3rd time. He laughed at me and said: ‘OK, your monthly pocket money can go on him.’ (Which was the grand total of £5). I was so sure about Rummy winning that I didn’t think twice about it.

My first time going to the races (that I can actually remember) was The Japan Cup.

My father was posted to The British Embassy in the late 1970s, and I went out there rather than go to boarding school. Thanks to this, I fell in love with flat racing, and followed Walter Swinburn and Steve Cauthen when we got back to England in the early 1980s.

I started taking photos when I was racing right from the start - mainly to have a record of the day, and all of the wonderful equines that I’d seen. The first time I actually got asked to take a particular photo was when a friend of mine was leading up her favourite horse, who was definitely not a world beater! She hadn’t got any photos of that kind as he never came anywhere. I took the one and only photo she has of him, as he was retired soon after. We still talk about it and how much it means to her.

I love going NH racing these days and still try and take photos of every horse that I see. I am classed as a keen amateur, so no selling or publishing is allowed - but as they are mainly for me as a record of my day’s racing, there is no harm in it.

I am the stable visit organiser for Cheltenham and Three Counties Race Club so my camera goes along on those visits to capture the visit. I have been asked by friends to do photo shoots. It pleases me no end to see memories captured for other people. The bond between humans and equines can be breathtaking, and to see a horse in action is out of this world.

I have 4 ex-racehorses of my own. They are all retired, out in the field for their final years. Living happily as a herd.

The Cheltenham and Three Counties Race Club was formed in August 1985 with the help and support of the late Lord Oaksey OBE. CTCRC meets for monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of each month from September to May. Meetings are generally held at The Victory Club in Cheltenham. A guest speaker or speakers from the world of horse racing is the feature of each meeting.

Some monthly meetings are held at racecourses, and stable visits and racecourse visits are also organised. In addition, the Club organises the Cheltenham Festival Preview held in the Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse. Find out more information here:

Follow Sarah Jane on Twitter @RacingmadSJM