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08 May 2019

Racing Together caught up with Tansy Challis, Grants Manager at the charity funder the Racing Foundation, to find out how racing industry projects are having an impact on the wider community.

Creating a lasting legacy

The Racing Foundation was set up in 2012 with an endowment of £78million from the government’s sale of the Tote betting service to support charitable purposes associated with the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries. By using investment income to make grants, we have the unique opportunity to establish a lasting legacy for the sport that will ensure charitable funding is available long-term. I think most people are unaware of the amount distributed – now more than £15million! We have supported a range of projects, especially those with a focus on social welfare; recruitment, training & retention and racehorse welfare.

An understanding of the charity world

Before joining the Racing Foundation at the end of 2014, I had worked for 12 years in the charity sector, including six years at Racing Welfare as Trust Fundraiser and Head of Fundraising. Having submitted numerous applications to Trusts and Foundations, in the past, I hope that my experience is helping the Racing Foundation to continue developing effective application, monitoring and evaluation processes, as well as building relationships with charities.

How the Foundation decides on which charities to support

Our current strategy (for 2018-2020) focuses on working collaboratively with other stakeholders to address specific issues faced by horseracing, with a particular emphasis on people and horses. We run three open funding rounds a year whereby applications are submitted via a two-stage process for a wide range of projects. The areas we cover include research; core activities; capital development; pilot projects and continuity schemes. Applications are assessed against an extensive list of criteria with final decisions made by our board of six Trustees. As a basic rule, I advise charities to consider four main questions, to help ensure a successful application: what is involved in their proposed project; why it is needed; what difference it will make and how they will assess/evaluate its impact.

Racing-related projects and the wider community

The Racing Foundation’s key aim is to support activities that benefit the racing industry and its participants, as is expected given that we were set up with racing industry money. It has been well publicised that a shortage of suitably-skilled staff is having a negative impact on the industry, so a particular focus, for us, is to invest in the industry’s people agenda to attract, develop and retain more staff.

We are supporting a number of projects that aim to work with the wider community: to raise awareness of the career opportunities offered by the racing industry, to identify new recruits and to ensure the sport better reflects the diversity of wider society through greater inclusion. We believe that by widening the appeal of the sport and engaging with youngsters who would not otherwise have been exposed to horseracing or have considered a career in it, we may be able to identify a potential new pool of dedicated and engaged staff. This, in turn, means we are providing vocational opportunities for those whose career prospects may otherwise have been limited by socio-economic, personal or even physical factors.

Some of our key projects

We are delighted to be working with a number of charities to plan, deliver and develop racing-related education and training programmes in communities across the UK. Many of these are also supported by Racing Together to increase community engagement and further enhance their impact and success. They include:

  • The Aintree Community Beacon delivered by Racing to School, to raise awareness of career opportunities in racing by working with schools in the area around Aintree, including Merseyside and the borough of Sefton, which are ranked within the lowest 20% Index of Multiple Deprivation areas in the country. Many of the children who participate in the Aintree Beacon are from deprived backgrounds, including high unemployment, education, skills, training and housing deprivation.
  • Pony Racing Academies co-ordinated by the British Racing School, Northern Racing College and Pony Racing Authority, aimed specifically at youngsters without their own pony or a link to horseracing and who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to compete.
  • Racing to Success Education Programme at Ebony Horse Club, Brixton offering racing-related activities to inner-city youngsters.
  • Take The Reins programme, delivered by Active Communities Network and Flying Futures to reach young people in deprived and inner-city communities across the country to build employability skills and improve understanding of the opportunities both with horses and in the hospitality areas of the industry.
  • Bespoke education programmes at HEROS and Greatwood including those for youngsters with additional educational needs and disabilities.
  • The Bridge of Hope project pilot, in partnership with Resume Foundation, which aims to provide career opportunities in horseracing for those who have taken a ‘fall’ in life, whether from disability, injury, mental health illness, addiction, crime or homelessness.

Making good early progress

It’s still early days for many of these projects so we look forward to measuring their impact as they progress further. Some of the more established programmes have already recorded great results, such as the Aintree Beacon, for which we are providing multi-year funding. By the end of its third year it had engaged with over 1,900 pupils, of whom 87% reported an increased knowledge of the sport and 88% an increased awareness of careers opportunities within the industry. The programme has been independently evaluated and recommendations implemented.

Some of the projects are pilot schemes, such as the Take The Reins programme so we will not be able to assess its impact until later in the year. However, we know that great progress is being made as it has already engaged with 1,657 young people and aims to reach a further 1,400 by the end of the summer.

So rewarding to see young people’s passion for horses

I find it especially rewarding to see youngsters developing a passion for horses, riding and horseracing. So many projects have a positive impact on their confidence, self-esteem and general outlook on life. I have met those on training courses at HEROS and Greatwood and have seen them flourish over the weeks and months. I have also been impressed by the number of youngsters graduating from one of the pony racing academies who have actually ridden in a pony race and even gone on to work in a racing yard.

Yes, we want to make a difference on a large scale, but the individual success stories are incredibly powerful – such as Abdulkareem Musa Adam (pictured below), who graduated from the Racing Foundation-funded ‘Initial Bit’ and ‘Racing Ahead’ programmes at Greatwood before enrolling on a Foundation Course at the NRC. He even won a Pride of Sport, Young Achiever Award – the first person from the racing industry to do so.

Abdulkareem Musa Adam

Also, Oshane from Ebony Horse Club, who attended a Racing Foundation-funded pony racing academy at Park Lane Stables before going on to not only ride in a pony race at Ascot, earlier this month, but to actually win it!


And then there is Leah Burnett (pictured below), who attended a pony racing academy before going on to win a pony race at Beverley Racecourse. Her ambition was to become a jockey and she went on to achieve her Level 2 Apprenticeship in a racing yard. She is now on a Level 3 Apprenticeship at Richard Fahey’s yard and is about to attend an Amateur Rider Category A course. One of many great stories.

Leah pony racing
Leah now works for Richard Fahey
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