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31 May 2024

French racing ambitious to reach out to young minds through school initiative

For the National Federation of Horseracing (FNCH), the organisation behind the #RaceAndCare programme, raising awareness of racehorse welfare is high on the agenda. Targeting communities around nearly 100 French racecourses has included working with schools.

The work is aimed at inspiring young participants by connecting them with the thrilling sport of horseracing and sharing the opportunities it affords them – core values shared with Racing to School’s own Education Programmes here in Britain. 

Tanguy Courtois, Public Affairs Officer at the FNCH, told us more about the programme and his hopes for its future.

How was your programme developed?

To reach a wider audience, the FNCH launched the “School Pack” programme in 2022, incorporating racecourse visits into school outings for children aged 9 to 12. This pack consists of an educational programme centred around a racetrack visit (offered as part of school, community, or regional recreational centre outings), along with a booklet full of informative content, and gifts for the young participants. Additionally, it includes operational support tools for organising the day, seeking support, and most importantly, ensuring a safe journey through a defined operating procedure.

This day is more than just a racecourse visit and provides children with an immersive discovery experience of equine welfare.

How many schools do you work with?

To date, 60 racecourses have organised a day since 2022. In 2024, the objective is to expand participation by fostering more racecourses and schools, notably through a communication addressed to all racecourse presidents to emphasise the importance of this programme of discovery for children.

How does your programme engage young people with horseracing in France?

We primarily focus on raising awareness about respect and care for horses, thereby strengthening the bond between animals and younger generations. It also highlights careers in horseracing to younger generations, connecting them with the equestrian world and the professional opportunities that exist there.

What is a typical experience for a young person attending your programme?

Accompanied by a racing representative, children take part in an immersive day, including an educational tour and the discovery of equine welfare facilities. Each child leaves with an educational booklet, a #RaceAndCare diploma, and a memento.

How will the programme develop in the future?

In the long term, the FNCH envisions evolving towards an interactive and educational mobile application. This application would offer educational and entertaining content on horseracing, focused on equine welfare. Children would learn about horse anatomy, equipment, racecourses, as well as about the retraining of horses unfit for racing. Quizzes would allow them to validate their knowledge and earn diplomas. Additionally, the application would feature interactive games, videos, and a map of racecourses in France.

About Racing to School: 

Racing to School is an education charity established in 2001 that aims to inspire young minds through the provision of free, interactive, and healthy outdoor educational events for schools, staged at a variety of racing venues. The charity achieved a record year in 2023, reaching over 16,200 young people across Great Britain. With a busy programme of educational activities planned across the year, the charity plans to exceed this level of engagement in 2023, delivering memorable events for young people to encourage more active learning and a positive first experience of the sport of horseracing. 

The charity works with diverse groups of young, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, and over one quarter of its output is targeted to engage those from inner city, rural and deprived areas. Our staff has a range of industry backgrounds including former jockeys who have retrained to develop their second careers, and their experience is invaluable as the charity introduces horseracing as an accessible sport to young people.

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