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Lifelong fan cheers for own runner

His horse didn’t win but it was a big day for Martin Winstanley, who works as a baker at a prison in Morpeth but escaped yesterday to cheer for Watch House Cross, being a member of the syndicate that owns the six-year-old. A lifelong fan of racing, Winstanley was given a syndicate membership in another horse for his 50th birthday by his colleagues, which he enjoyed so much that he splashed out himself on this second involvement.
“We’ve got a Cheltenham horse in our first year,” Winstanley said, reflecting on his good fortune as he and his wife, Susan, tried to keep warm while talking to the Front Runner before racing. This was his first visit to the home of jump racing, a moment he described as “massively special”. 
Winstanley works for The Oswin Project, which helps people with criminal records to find employment, training and support in the North East. His involvement is in the cafe and bakery at HMP Northumberland, where ten prisoners at a time get hands-on experience in catering.
“When they’ve been in prison, they don’t leave with a lot,” he says. “They have quite a lot of pressures on them.
“All of a sudden, you may lose your house and your family, your job, and you don’t know what to do. This gives them a purpose to get up in the morning, instead of being locked in cells all day.”
A winner at Naas in November, Watch House Cross must have given Winstanley a thrill, leading for much of the way in the Coral Cup under Rachael Blackmore before getting tired. Hopefully, it was still a good day, as Winstanley was planning to back Energumene. 
Chalk up another win for syndicate ownership.

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