South London students enjoy first experience of the racing world at Lingfield
A pre-Christmas treat for a group of year 11 school pupils from Evelyn Grace Academy, Brixton saw them spend the day at Lingfield Park on December 20th. The careers-focused day was organised through Racing Together partner Active Communities Network and is part of the Take The Reins initiative. The programme supports young people from inner cities access the range of careers in racing.
The group was given an insight into raceday preparation, beginning at the stables where they saw the day’s runners being identified. They were made aware of the strict checking processes as the horses came in from their boxes. The pupils had not expected there to be such a stringent process, or to have been able to see it so close-up.
A trip to the parade ring gave the group, most of whom had never seen horses in this way, another reminder of the size and presence of the juveniles that contested the opening race. The second race was viewed at the winning post, and then came a special treat: a Q&A session with St Leger-winning trainer Mark Tompkins.
The Newmarket trainer spoke to the young people with great enthusiasm about the many opportunities available in racing and how the sport can take people on a journey right across the world. Mark answered all the questions on his day-to-day activities running his Newmarket yard and proudly touched on a few highlights of his distinguished career. This direct access to someone with such knowledge and experience in racing adds so much to the Programme and its impact.
“Mark’s passion for the sport was clear to see and hear, and this really rubbed off on the young people who left the talk feeling very positive about what is possible for them in the future,” said Adam Harman of Racing Together.
“I was very happy to talk to the group and I hope that I inspired them to think about the future and let them know that anything is possible, if they put the effort in,” said the trainer.
There is more to Lingfield Park Resort than their racing days, and the group quickly changed sports with a tour of the golf course. A careers talk on the golfing and hospitality worlds was followed by a putting lesson on the practice green – another unique experience for these inner-city based students.
This was a truly special and memorable day and epitomises racing’s ability to welcome and excite all its communities. As one of the young people commented: “I had no idea that so many roles existed in the racing world and I really enjoyed being out on the golf course with live racing taking place around us, I’ve really enjoyed today.”
Racing Together will be working closely again next year with the youth charities that organise the popular Take The Reins initiative.