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04 November 2021

Primary school teacher Paresh Patel is pursuing his childhood dream and love of horseracing as he learns to ride at Britain’s leading trainer.

A primary school teacher from Wolverhampton is pursuing his childhood dream and love of horseracing, as he learns to ride at Mark Johnston’s. Patel, 49 contacted Johnston last year during the Qatar Goodwood Festival, expressing his interest in learning to ride horses. He heard back from the trainer immediately who was delighted to support him in learning to ride racehorse. Since then whenever possible Patel has made the 6-hour round trip up to Middleham, Yorkshire. 

Patel grew up by Cheltenham racecourse and he hopes his story combined with his positive experience in racing will inspire young people from urban communities to explore a career within the racing industry.

Patel, who has now progressed to riding in a group alongside Johnston’s work riders for morning exercise, said: “I hope that my story will encourage people who may feel that they are unable to take part in racing to take the first step to getting involved in horseracing and make the dream a reality. I have always had a passion for wanting to ride racehorses and last year, I realised that it is never too late to start and to grab the opportunity when the Johnston Racing Team invited me to learn with them.

He continued: “I feel part of the team at Mark and Deirdre’s and it is great to be part of the group helping to look after and riding such special animals. I hope to continue riding at Johnston Racing and support the team the best that I can. I would like my community to have a better understanding of racing and the opportunities that are available for all and hope through my story I can help inform people of this.”

Johnston who is Britain’s most-winning trainer said: “When I first heard from Paresh it rang some alarm bells with me. Immediately it struck me that he was going to risk his career as a primary school teacher to take a mid-life change of direction into racing. I wrote to him and encouraged him not to rush to burn his bridges and to come to us to learn to ride.”

“Progress has been slower than we would have hoped for Paresh due to Covid restrictions, which have been particularly stringent at times due to him being a teacher in his other life, but he can now ride out with the string.

He continued: “He has made a huge effort to learn to ride but clearly enjoys every minute of it. I hope what he has done will provide inspiration to others, particularly in the British Indian community, who probably never realised that learning to ride and working in racing was an option for them.”

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