Three youngsters from one of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in London, Brixton, were treated to a very special Christmas gift as they visited Ascot Racecourse and Uplands Stables in Lambourn, courtesy of Great British Racing.
Oshane (13), Grace and Abdus (both 15) from Ebony Horse Club, a community riding centre in Brixton that teaches life skills, builds confidence and provides opportunities for children from disadvantaged areas, spent the day behind the scenes at the world-famous Ascot Racecourse as well as the home of jumps trainer Warren Greatrex.
The two days, which were the children’s first ever visits to a racecourse and racing stables, have been documented in a mini-series. To watch episode one at Ascot Racecourse see below:
In episode two of the mini-series by Great British Racing, they spent the morning at Uplands Stables where they were given some insight into the world of a Grade 1 winning trainer as they chatted to Warren Greatrex.
Greatrex went on to explain to the trio how he looks for characteristics in jockeys that are: “Brave, strong, intelligent. They need a really good work ethic and obviously weight is key.”
Throughout the day, they met various staff including Ian Yeats, Head Groom at Uplands, and Grace was delighted by what she saw at the yard. “Seeing the racing yard is an amazing experience. There’s so much work being put in from the office to the yard manager – it’s really, really amazing.”
The youngsters were then finally treated to the ultimate experience as they were given a free jockey lesson by Nick Bentley, where they got to experience first-hand what it’s like to ride a racehorse.
Bentley said: ““Grace, Oshane and Abdus are three tremendously aspirational young riders and are a credit to the number of young men and women that are helped everyday by Ebony Horse Club. It was a real pleasure to host them at both the yard and Ascot Racecourse, and I was particularly impressed by their skills on the equisizer in the jockey lesson! This series is a fantastic example of how horseracing can make a huge difference to the lives of young disadvantaged people and can make those dreams come true!”
To watch episode two at Warren Greatrex’s yard see below:
ITV Racing’s Oli Bell, who is a patron of Ebony Horse Club, said: “Having seen first-hand the superb work at Ebony it became apparent very quickly that this is a really special place. The club has a monumental impact on the lives of young men and women from the inner city of London and through the relationship with horses these young men and women are able to learn so many important characteristics such as respect, discipline, kindness, team spirit and community. That is the beauty of Ebony. Everyone is in it together.”
Ebony Horse Club
Ebony Horse Club teaches and inspires disadvantaged and ‘at risk’ young people in the Lambeth area of London. They offer life changing and emotional coping skills through their horses. They have an inspirational facility with eight horses and over 120 young members. They offer their members a safe space to come and learn and relax as many have complicated issues at home. Their team organises residential camps, training, competitions and events throughout the year for all their members, most of whom have never left south London! They also provide everything the kids may need from one to one counselling and advice from their experienced youth team to the practical things like boots, jods, hats, jackets etc.
Recently they have forged strong links within the thoroughbred industry with a large grant from the Peter O’Sullevan trust and The Racing Foundation. They are also thankful for assistance from Godolphin, The British Racing School the BHA, Ascot and a number of trainers and racing professionals. Some of their kids have a keen interest in racing and they are working with the BHA to help their alumni gain valuable training, industry qualifications and careers in the racing and breeding industry, most of which is funded directly by donations. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is President of the Charity. www.ebonyhorseclub.org.uk
Videos and images courtesy of Great British Racing, with thanks to Ascot Racecourse and Racecourse Media Group.