Racing Together steams through the hot summer

18 Aug 16

Summer may be almost over but there has been no let up for Racing Together as British Racing continues building momentum and make a positive impact on local communities.


Racing to School’s Riders’ Programme Inspiring Young Minds


Get Inspired is the call to action that’s beaming across the BBC’s multi-channel coverage of the Rio Olympics. And the choice on offer is a summer platter to confound all but the most decisive of diners, writes John Blake, Executive Director of the Racing to School Charity.


With golf and rugby union added to the roster this year, there are now 28 sports to indulge the worldwide viewer. Add tennis and football to the list and these are headline acts that aren’t exactly starved of global podiums to entice the young; and if kids are looking to get active in, on or through the water, then Team GB is awash with role models.


Burning rubber on the vertiginous velodrome or being venerated for thrashing your BMX to the limits must already be the stuff of many a child’s dream. Throw in medals and countless youngsters will be asking: ‘Where do I sign?’


No surprises then, that being the next Adam Peaty, Max Whitlock, Laura Trott or Charlotte Dujardin will keep many a young mind focused when the bell goes for PE next term.

The equestrian disciplines are unique within the Olympic programme, allowing men and women to compete not only in teams together but on a level platform. This equality must play out well to budding recruits.


Racing Post’s Tom Kerr recently and rightly applauded the Shergar Cup, both for showcasing the well-honed skills and styles of competing jockeys within a six-race showdown competition and for offering an exciting twist of our sport. Racing as an as an Olympic event, however, even in a thoroughbred heartland like Japan in 2020 looks an enduring non-runner.


The charity Racing to School is putting the case to the young – most recently Pony Clubbers and equine students through our new Riders’ Programme.


The good news is that we are finding fertile soil among those for whom the horse already holds some emotional value. Many across the sport are self-help converts and are working in step with us to bring the benefit of racing’s assets and opportunities to a new generation of participants and spectators. But don’t take our word for it…


“Our members just loved the day at Ripon,” said Penny Best of the Cleveland Hunt Pony Club who went along to a Riders’ event in mid-August.


“I know that the girls really enjoyed the experience and found it so interesting. A few of them knew a bit about the sport beforehand but to be right in the centre of the action with everything explained just opened up their eyes to what else is on offer, other than being a jockey (even though that is still top of their list!).


“It was a wonderful and a unique event for the girls which has spurred on their interest in the sport.”


With such an eager audience within reach, the great thing is that we don’t have to wait four years to get a lot of young minds racing.


Racing Welfare builds partnership with Sporting Memories



Racing Welfare has established a new partnership with the Sporting Memories Foundation, a national network which uses the power of stories to reignite connections between generations and combat the effects of dementia, depression and loneliness in the communities.


The Sporting Memories Racing Reminiscence Group had their first meeting at The Old Lodge Hotel in Malton on Monday 11th July.  Organised by Racing Welfare in Malton, the aim of the sessions is to combat loneliness through sport by bringing together people aged 50 years +, including retired jockeys, trainers, stable staff, farriers and saddlers.


Megan Hale from Sporting Memories attended, and stated how thrilled she was to see so many people there. Memorabilia brought back memories of Racing in Malton in the 1950, 60’s and 70’s. Many stories were shared about the yards in which attendees had worked, the wages they received and the accommodation that they lived in and as you can imagine there was a lot of humour!


Aintree beacon continues to burn brightly


As part of the Racing Together Community Engagement Programme at Aintree, two year 10 pupils, Faye Williams and Isabel Paniagua, from Marticourt School in Maghull were selected to take part in one week of work experience at the Racecourse.


This followed an interview process where dozens of pupils were interviewed by Racing Together, Racing to School, the education charity of Racing and Aintree staff for the opportunity to gain experience at the home of the Grand National.

In order to give the students a broad view of a racecourse operation, Faye and Isabel worked across six different departments including Operations, Marketing & Communications, Sales, Catering, Equestrian Centre and Office Administration. The different departments showed Isabel and Faye a normal working day, immersed them into the history of the racecourse and the Grand National and gave them opportunities to use their own initiative and put their ideas into action.


Faye Williams looked back at her week at Aintree and said: “Thank you for the amazing experience because I learnt so much and would now be interested in operations as a possible future career.”


Following on from this, Aintree’s Operations Manager, Carl Pastor has invited Faye to shadow him around the Randox Health Grand National to give her further experience.


Aintree also hosted a tour for a group of 25 children from the  Conwy Community Riding Centre.  The group learnt all about the famous history of the racecourse. They were greeted by Aintree enthusiast Jane, one of the tour guides for the Jockey Club who vividly brought everything to life for the children with a look at the historic Aintree fences and the weighing room.


Reflecting on the day, one of the children said: “I had never been to a racecourse before and it was amazing”.

Another member of the group commented: “I really enjoyed racing my friend riding the Equisizer.”

Wendy Jones of the Conwy Community Riding Centre added:

“Thank you so much to Aintree for our wonderful visit.  I have never had so much feedback from parents – the children never stopped talking about all they had seen.  They made us feel so welcome and were so kind to give us such a great venue to eat our lunch. Jane was the fountain of all knowledge and brought the racetrack and all its legends to life.  A Huge thank you to Aintree for such a great memory”.


Not forgetting Racing’s own heroes


NKT sports day 2016

A total of 196 competitors from 27 different yards featured in the second annual Racing Staff Sports Day in Newmarket on Sunday 10th July.

The event, which was hosted by the Racing Centre in Newmarket in association with National Association of Stable Staff (NASS), took place in Newmarket Academy Playing Fields and culminated in an Awards Ceremony at The Racing Centre in the evening. It was a great day out for all the family; with food and drink stalls, music, bouncy castle and face painting.

Staff took part in a range of competitive track and field events. The overall winners of the 2016 Mulqueen Farriery Racing Staff Sports Day Cup were the Godolphin Saaed bin Suroor Yard, beating runners-up and 2015 champions William Haggas Yard. The Tug of War title was retained by Cheveley Park Stud.


Speaking about the day Marc Halford, Saaed Bin Suroor, Godolphin said:


“I would like to thank the Racing Centre and the people who organised the event for all their hard work. Stable Staff and the Racing Community appreciate it a lot. It brings us all together and much more”


Dixie Dyson, a competitor in the 1952 Stablemen’s Sports Day and a guest of the awards in the evening said: “I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of all who took part. Whether they won or came last, all finished with a smile on their face. I hope and pray they will all take part next year”.


Plans are already in place for a third instalment of the event in 2017.