A teenager with type 1 diabetes has become the first person with the condition to be given a horse racing license.
Historically, people with type 1 diabetes have been unable to participate in the sport because of safety concerns.
Hector Barr, 16, grew up around horses as his father Stephen – who also has type 1 diabetes – raced horses as a youngster but was forced to give it up when he was diagnosed.
To prevent history repeating itself, Hector’s family worked with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to create a new protocol which allows him to race.
Speaking to the Essex County Standard newspaper, Hector’s mum Emma Barr said: “It is really massive – a huge step forward. Before [people with type 1 diabetes] have always been told no, no, no.”
In order to allow him to get on the race track, Hector’s blood sugar levels are tested rigorously on the day.
“The authorities have to know you are not going to lose consciousness because of a hypo,” said Mrs Barr. “But readings can be taken from a patch on his arm which shows his blood sugar levels and their trajectory.”
The BHA medical department worked with Dr Ian Galle, who is a diabetologist with expertise in athletes with diabetes to develop the new guidelines.
A BHA spokesman said: “With improvements in the understanding and management of diabetes it is increasingly recognised that it is possible for diabetic athletes to compete at high level.”
Mrs Barr added: “Because of the adrenaline produced when he is racing, his sugar levels go up which means if Hector has multiple races at a meeting he has to work to bring them down before starting again. He also has to be very careful about what goes into his body.
“All the medical staff at the courses have been briefed and often come and talk to Hector about the protocols. If he has a fall and loses consciousness then it is important people know he is diabetic.”
Since Hector has tried out the new policy he managed to race up and down the country. His next race will take place at Higham Point later this month.
“He has had some very encouraging results and we are now looking forward to the next seaso,” Mrs Barr said. “Hopefully this will not just benefit him, but open the door for others with diabetes.”

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