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.”