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Gay Kelleway, who won at Royal Ascot in 1987, has been helping to rescue horses in Ukraine. online

Saving warzone horses is humbling, says ex-jockey

A woman who was the first female jockey to win at Royal Ascot said saving horses from Ukraine has been the "most worthwhile thing" she has done in her life.

Newmarket horse trainer Gay Kelleway has provided aid and carried out rescue missions for abandoned horses since the Russian invasion last year.

She was recognised at the Thoroughbred sector Employee Awards.

Ms Kelleway said the project had been "very humbling".

During the last year Ms Kelleway, who won The Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot on Sprowston Boy in 1987, helped provide vehicles and aid to get horses across the border from Ukraine into Poland.

She and her team then tried to reunite the abandoned horses, which were microchipped, with their owners who had fled.

Ms Kelleway said the project had developed and she was now working with people who had remained in Ukraine to rehome horses in need.

The team has also been providing aid to cats and dogs.

Ms Kelleway, who was a jockey for eight years and has been a trainer for 32, added: "It's very rewarding and more rewarding than anything I've ever done.

"It's the most worthwhile thing I've ever done in my life."

She believes the level of aid to those in need in Ukraine has dropped during the past year.

"That was upsetting," she said. "This war isn't going to end."

Ms Kelleway, who is rehoming a dog that had been shelled, said she decided to help because she felt "there was something inside me that just needed to".

"Horses have provided me with a wonderful life, a wonderful home and a lot of fun days," she said.

"To do something like this... it's just been so rewarding and so blessing and I just want to keep doing it."

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