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09 May 2022

Hannah Henn is among the first intake of the new Racing Media Academy, which she describes as ‘here to make change’ and of huge benefit to the sport.  

A race against time

Horseracing is a race against time, and in my opinion it’s time to embrace diversity. We will not slow down in the fight for equality and inclusivity. Whether you feel our sport lacks opportunity, or fear being uncomfortable, unwelcome or have no desire to be involved at all, The Racing Media Academy is here to change that!

To help break down these ‘hurdles’, Josh Apiafi with the help of Lee Moulson transformed his vision of a more diverse and equal industry into a reality. The idea is that this direct pathway will bring a more varied talent into horseracing’s media. Luckily for me, I made the final cut when applying and was selected as one of the 10 candidates to take part in the Academy, followed by a paid working placement. 

A tough decision to take a different path 

Unlike most candidates, I have been privileged enough to grow up around these magnificent, four- legged animals my entire life. Working in the sport for a decade, I have progressed from a stable lass to a successful amateur Point-to-Point jockey, recently riding a winner for former Spice Girl (Geri Halliwell) and Redbull F1 Team Principal (Christian Horner).

Since having my daughter in 2018 and becoming a single mum it was nearly impossible for me to continue working full-time as a jockey. Early starts (riding), weekends away racing, everyday stable commitments, and juggling motherhood soon put a hold on that career. As a result of this, I took the bold decision to consider a different career path which would benefit me more alongside motherhood and financially. Initially, it was very difficult to know where to go or what to do next within the sport and being dyslexic at school, the academic odds were against me. 

Despite my dyslexia I have always had a creative flare, a unique desire to design, and a passion for painting. Acknowledging my strengths, I took it upon myself to complete an HND Graphics and Media course at Milton Keynes College. By this point I was juggling a full-time job, full-time college course and being a mother. Luckily for me, I had my parents to lean on if I needed help which was more often than not!

Huge industry support

When reading the advertisement for The Racing Media Academy I jumped at the chance to get involved. This was without doubt the golden opportunity I needed to help forward my career in the media industry of the sport I loved most. Meeting some of the broadcasting legends Clare Balding, Rishi Persad and Alice Plunkett are memories that none of us are likely to forget. We covered all the aspects of broadcasting from journalism with Lydia Hislop and Lee Mottershed (Racing Post), to race commentary (Mike Cattermole), and extensive camera work with Equine Productions.

We enjoyed working alongside the content creators from The Jockey Club, Sky Sports Racing and the CEO of Great British Racing. Invitations to Dalham Hall Stud, George Boughey Racing, The Jockey Club Rooms, The National Horse Racing Museum, and The Hall of Fame Awards presented an inspiring insight into the history and the various processes involved in the sport. This was all topped off with a day at Newmarket races. We were treated to a hospitality box and behind the scenes media pass to see first-hand what could be expected of us in the future.

Teamwork and lasting friendships

Throughout the course there has been a real sense of support from the other candidates. We are a group of very diverse people, all from different backgrounds. Having worked as a close-knit team we managed to succeed in the assignments that were given. This diverse approach was refreshing, and it really illustrated how the sport can benefit.

The Racing Media Academy was a truly great experience; not only did I gain a vast amount of knowledge, but also made some great friendships. I am grateful for this amazing opportunity and appreciate the hard work that everyone has put into this project, particularly Josh Apiafi, Lee Moulson, Catherine Goff and Carol Bramhill. 

Our success can be used as a great example to unite people within the sport. We have so many opportunities that include training, riding, media, marketing and even hospitality, which could make our sport more accessible to all. 

I hope my story will help to inspire more mothers to follow their dreams and achieve their goals, as well as encourage the next generation of racing media students. Wishing the rest of class ‘22 the best of luck in their placements and I can’t wait to start mine at Sky Sports Racing!

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