The first cohort of 18 young people has been selected to join the inaugural Riding A Dream Academy which aims to support talented riders aged 14–18 from underrepresented groups and communities get involved in horseracing.
Funded by the Racing Foundation and inspired by Khadijah Mellah, the first British Muslim woman to win a horserace in the UK, the Academy’s programmes will be delivered by the British Racing School. There are ten young people who will join the Residential Week, a riding-based course which acts as an introduction to racing, and eight talented riders who have been selected for the prestigious Khadijah Mellah Scholarship. Both courses will take place from August.
Amongst those selected for the Scholarship is Aamilah Aswat, from Gloucester, whose space has kindly been funded by The Jockey Club, which has a long association with St James’ City Farm where she rides. Aamilah said, “I am so excited to have been accepted onto the Khadijah Mellah Scholarship. I have always loved horses and my dream is to ride in and win the Grand National. I recently won my first pony race on Zara, the pony bought for St James’ City Farm by the Jockey Club and it was so amazing. I am so pleased that through the Scholarship I will be able to get even more experience in racing and hopefully achieve all my dreams.”
Amongst the other successful candidates are riders from Ebony Horse Club in Brixton; Park Lane Riding Stables in Twickenham and the Urban Equestrian Academy in Leicester.
FR33DOM Zampaladus who runs the Urban Equestrian Academy and has had four young people accepted on the Academy said, “I am so proud of the young people who have been accepted onto the Riding A Dream Academy. They have all shown that no matter where you come from you, if you work hard and believe in yourself you can achieve anything. We are all very proud that the Urban Equestrian Academy has had such an impact on young kids’ lives in Leicester and prepared them for this next step in racing and we are very grateful to the Riding A Dream Academy for giving them this opportunity.”
The announcement of the Academy’s attendees comes on nearly two years to the day since Khadijah Mellah won the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood in 2019. Competition for places on the Academy has been intense with 55 applications – three times the number of young people applying as there were available spots.
Khadijah said, “We have been overwhelmed with the response to the Riding A Dream Academy and it has been really humbling to have read so many incredible applications from young people with a passion for racing. We are so excited to be welcoming our first attendees this summer and hope that the Academy will become a long-term project which continues to support young people who wouldn’t otherwise have a pathway into racing. If just one of our attendees went onto ride in a race because they had been given the chance to be on the Academy, I would be over the moon.”
Chief Executive of the Racing Foundation Rob Hezel said, “By funding the Riding a Dream Academy, the Racing Foundation is supporting British racing’s long-term ambition to create a truly diverse, inclusive and welcoming sport. We’d like to offer our congratulations to all the young riders who have been selected to take part in the Residential Week and the Khadijah Mellah Scholarship, and hope they enjoy every moment of this exciting opportunity.”
About the Riding A Dream Academy
The Riding A Dream Academy is passionate about supporting talented young riders from underrepresented groups and communities, to help them get involved in British horseracing. Inspired by the incredible achievements of Khadijah Mellah, who became the first British Muslim woman to ride in and win a British horserace, the Academy aims to help other young riders aged 14–18 achieve their dreams. Funded by the Racing Foundation, the Academy runs two programmes – The Khadijah Mellah Scholarship which is a year-long programme for talented riders, and the Riding A Dream Residential Week which is a fun introduction to the sport. The Academy has been developed by ITV Presenter, Oli Bell and Great British Racing’s Head of PR, Naomi Lawson.
The Racing Foundation
In 2012 the Racing Foundation was established to oversee the distribution of funds to charitable causes within the racing and Thoroughbred industry following the sale of the tote. Since inception it has awarded £23 million in grants. People, equine welfare, community engagement and environment and emerging issues are the key areas of focus in the latest strategy. The Trustees of the Racing Foundation are Ian Barlow (Chairman), Linda Bowles, Susannah Gill, Mark Johnston, Louise Kemble and William Rucker. The British Horseracing Authority, the Horsemen’s Group and Racecourse Association are the three joint Members of the Racing Foundation, which is registered with the Charity Commission as a charity under the law of England and Wales (no. 1145297).
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