Beacon Racecourse Aintree leads the way

13 Jul 15

In April 2015 Racing Together launched Aintree Racecourse as the first ‘Beacon Racecourse’ in the country and it has been hosting a series of Pony Education Days throughout June. This is part of a number of important projects being spearheaded this year as part of the Beacon Pilot Programme, focusing initially on educational activities that will make a difference to local school children. 10 primary and three secondary schools from the local area are part of this programme.

The Beacon Pilot is designed to provide joint learning opportunities for local communities in the Sefton area of Merseyside – the 135th most deprived area in the country of over 32,000 council wards according to Government statistics. For more details about the launch of the Beacon Racecourse and a short video visit this page.

The Pony Education Days are fun-packed but comprise an important learning opportunity for the children taking part. The day was led by British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust’s (BHEST) Education Officers Carrie Ford (former Grand National Jockey) and Jo McCain (sister of trainer Donald McCain). The day featured a tour of the weighing room as well as an opportunity for the group to try out their race riding skills on the Equicisor and a chance to see the famous Grand National fences up close. Led by staff from The Equestrian Centre at Aintree, the highlight for many of the children was the hands-on pony grooming session and an introductory riding lesson, a first for many of the children.

The day coincided with the first national The Horse Comes First raceday, so to continue the theme Carrie Ford hosted a session in which the children learnt about basic horse care and the high levels of care racehorses receive during and after racing.

Each session was incredibly interactive and there were many opportunities for the children to engage, ask questions and learn through practical involvement. It was clear the children enjoyed themselves and being part of the various activities, which was consistent with the positive feedback received by the team at the end of the day.

Aintree continues to foster strong, collaborative and innovative links with the neighbouring community and recognises its importance to the city of Liverpool and surrounding boroughs. Amongst other activities planned as part of the Beacon Pilot is the extension of the programme to secondary schools, including CV writing sessions, advice on careers training, and work experience opportunities.

Racing Together spokesman Sean O’Connor commented, “Racing Together is essential in bringing together the communities in which we operate, supporting racing, education outreach and local life. It really was an honour and privilege to be part of the day. A huge thank you to the management team at Aintree and BHEST for arranging the day and putting in place such a comprehensive, inspiring programme. Apart from the personal fulfilment and enrichment which comes from being involved in these extremely important and worthwhile initiatives, there are plainly considerable educational benefits for the children involved as well.”


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We want to hear about all of the great community work that’s taking place throughout British Racing. Please email: [email protected] to tell us what you’ve been doing, or what you have planned for the future to get involved with Racing Together. With your support, we will take every opportunity to promote your work.


For general advice or support with your initiatives please contact Sean O’Connor, Racing Together Project Manager. Email: [email protected].

For more information on Aintree Racecourse, please contact Grant Rowley on [email protected].



Notes to editors:

1. British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust (BHEST), supported by a grant from the Racing Foundation, is working in partnership with Aintree Racecourse, Aintree Equestrian Centre, the Northern Racing College, Careers in Racing, Racing Together, and the Racecourse Association, to deliver the Racing to School education programme.

2. The Racing Foundation was established in 2012 to oversee the distribution of funds to charitable causes within racing following the sale of the Tote. Since inception, it has granted over £2million to charities associated with the horseracing and Thoroughbred breeding industry in the UK, supporting work in social welfare, education, training & participation, horse welfare, equine science research, and heritage & culture.


Twitter: @RFoundation01

3. Racing Together promotes community work throughout British Racing, centred around four guiding pillars:

  • Helping Others –  Providing a ‘Centre of Excellence’ to support the aggregate of Racing Together
  • Racing – Looking after the people and horses who are British Racing
  • Education Outreach– Improving education and developing future champions
  • Local Life – Bringing together communities

Our vision is to have developed, by 2020, a network of Beacon Racecourses from which to coordinate a significant number of Racing Together’s education and wellbeing objectives. The Beacon Racecourses will provide joint learning opportunities for local communities, including an advanced programme for children from local schools, using the Racing environment to support and enrich the learning of national curriculum subjects.  We will also seek to establish a Racing Volunteer Network comprised twofold of the local population and Racing’s employees to resource various projects