An Interview with Tracy Roberts of Turfpix, Racing Photographer
Tracy Roberts has been crazy about horses and ponies since she was a little girl and started to follow National Hunt racing from the age of eight, when she became a fan of Gold Cup winner The Dikler. Tracy is a freelance horseracing photographer covering all aspects of the sport from press work to commissions, racecourses and yard photos.
Photo credit:Brian Nicholls
Originally from Devon, Tracy visited Newton Abbot in the mid-1980s and took her first racing photos there. Since then, photography has taken Tracy all over the south west, covering all the local racecourses and point-to-points. She has been a photographer at Exeter, Cheltenham, Newton Abbot, Wincanton, Chepstow, Newbury and Sandown, covered the big festivals at Aintree, Cheltenham and Punchestown and provided photographs for Racing Ahead magazine.
In 2012, Tracy won the Horse Writers and Photographers Association’s Derby Award for the Horseracing Picture of the year. In December, she won the latest Horse Racing Photographer of the Year - a huge achievemebt and very well deserved.
“Horseracing is about grit and determination, precision and passion,” says Tracy, who now lives in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. “I hope that some of this is reflected in my work.”
How and when did you start taking an interest in photography?
I started taking photos when I was twelve. Mum and Dad bought me a camera for my birthday and that was that. I took the camera everywhere and took photos of everything! They were all pretty awful!
How and when did this progress into becoming a racecourse photographer?
I've had various jobs throughout my life but racing photography wasn’t part of it until I was 40 years old. Unforeseen circumstances changed my life completely when I was 38. I was widowed and decided to pursue my love of racing and photography. I gave myself a five-year plan and, some 15 years later, I am still here working in this fantastic industry.
What is your favourite racecourse?
I don't have a favourite course or meeting. Although it is great working at the big festivals, I also get a lot of pleasure working at the smaller tracks throughout the week where you get to see some of the younger horses having their first run or progressing through the ranks to eventually run on a big day.
The big festivals are great fun and you can't beat the atmosphere they provide, but it's hard work too. Fighting the crowds to get back to the winner’s enclosure or the press room can be exhausting.
Do you prefer Flat or National Hunt?
I prefer the jumps to the Flat, that’s probably because I love point-to-pointing and my first love was The Dikler back in the 1970s.
What are the best aspects about being a racecourse photographer?
On the course I am in a prime viewing place, out by the jumps or the winning post, soaking up the atmosphere and getting ready to take a photo that will freeze a great sporting moment, or I taking a picture for an owner that will take pride of place on the wall or mantlepiece.
And what is the worst?!
The only thing I truly don't like are the long journeys made from home to courses and back. The weather can be horrid at times but it can also be instrumental into making the photos taken on that day extra special.
Which racing yards have you visited and which ones left a big impression?
I love visiting the yards and have been very lucky to see some of the top ones during a working day. I got a lucky break quite soon in my racing career when I was invited to Paul Nicholls' yard and have been very fortunate to work with him and his staff for some years. Highlights of that were spending time with Kauto Star, Denman, Big Buck's etc and I took the photos of the Queen's visit to the stables last year.
Who do you admire in racing?
I admire so many people in racing. Our wonderful sport is full of amazing people and characters: trainers, jockeys, stable and racecourse staff.
Go to www.turfpix.com to have a look at Tracy’s collection of beautiful photos capturing all aspects of horseracing, at home and on the racecourse.
Photo Credit: Turfpix