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13 February 2018

Retired rider Sammy Jo Bell gives inspirational talk to Ebor Academy

For 40 lucky students from the Ebor Academy Trust, a career talk and Q&A session with recently retired lady jockey Sammy Jo Bell on February 7th was an opportunity too good to miss. The former Shergar Cup-winning jockey spoke in depth about her career – the highs and lows – and the wide range of opportunities available to young people. The message was clear: to work hard and to grab the openings with both hands when they come along. Sammy Jo knows how that feels, as in 2015 she became the first apprentice to take part in the Shergar Cup team competition run at Ascot. Not only that, but she capped a landmark day by winning the Silver Saddle Prize for the competition’s best jockey.

Another key figure involved with the youth initiative, Take the Reins is leading Flat trainer Richard Fahey. A yard visit to Musley Bank is next on the agenda for the Ebor Academy students.

Take The Reins coordinator, James Lodge said of Sammy Jo’s involvement: “Our first jockey Q&A session was a real success thanks to Sammy Jo. It was great to see her give some real-life insight into the industry, which will have no doubt inspired some audience members to seriously consider pursuing a career in racing. It was great to see so many young people engaged in the session.”

Mark Johnston aligns himself with Take The Reins

Another top trainer who opened his doors to young people earlier this year is Mark Johnston. The Middleham-based yard hosted 15 students from Campsmount Academy in Doncaster for an enviable behind-the-scenes guide to the yard that has saddled over 4,000 winners.

The day allowed the young people to explore the various job roles that are undertaken at a yard and to watch some of the stable top performers exercise. Holding and developing young people’s interest in the sport is key and following on from the yard visit, interested participants will have the opportunity to attend a visit to the Northern Racing College.

James Lodge said of the day: “Inspiring the youth of tomorrow is our aim here. Today has seen a group of 15 students visit one of the top performing yards in the country. The students were particularly interested in discovering what processes make the whole operation such a success.”

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