Announced at the start of May, The Jockey Club’s first ever group-wide partnership with Gallagher sees the two organisations work together with the collective aim of opening up racing to young people from a broad range of backgrounds. The focus of the partnership is on creating “experience days” across many of The Jockey Club’s venues, which includes 15 racecourses and The National Stud. It is hoped that these days will introduce more young people from all backgrounds and communities to the racing industry and encourage them to consider it as a potential career or become involved in the sport.
At Newmarket, it was a Youth Day where the focus was on young people in secondary education aged 14–18 from the London area. This event had the added dimension of uniting two of The Jockey Club’s Partners – Gallagher and youth and community development charity, The Rio Ferdinand Foundation, providing them the platform to offer the teenagers in attendance the opportunity to learn about the racing world and see if it could potentially offer a career path for them.
Taking place at The National Stud, attendees were given a tour of the 500-acre estate by its employees and Gallagher volunteers. The stud’s stallions, including the well-known Stradivarius, were paraded and there was also a tour of the foaling unit, with attendees able to see a number of mares and foals. For those wanting hands-on experience, there was an opportunity to groom a horse and muck out.
One participant, Grace, remarked: “It was a fantastic day. We learnt all about horses – their anatomy, how they are groomed, how they grow up and how they become racehorses.
“I did not know much about horses before and not been up close with them, so it was definitely great to understand more about them and the creativities employed within the racing industry.
“I am not usually a person that is very comfortable around animals but to be there and feel so relaxed made it a great experience.”
Another, Hannah, added: “Before the day I had not much experience with horses – I had no reason to like or dislike them.
“After Newmarket, I now look at horses very positively. Not just the horses, but also those that look after them with their care and dedication. It was also interesting to see all the different careers in racing and to learn that there are 45,000 employed in the racing industry.”
At Exeter it was a Junior Experience Day and saw 100 children aged from seven to mid-teens and their parents introduced to pony racing. For many in attendance, it was a first visit to a racecourse, although most had some connection to riding - either by owning their own pony or by attending a riding school.
The young people were able to see behind the scenes at the racecourse and see what goes into staging a raceday. They were also able to gain insights into equine welfare with a vet before a pony race was staged. As an added bonus the trophy for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which celebrates its centenary next year, was on show and provided some great photo opportunities.
Sophie Chambers, Managing Director of Gallagher’s bloodstock practice, said: “We were thrilled with the first events in Exeter and Newmarket and it was fantastic to meet the attendees who clearly enjoyed their days out. We were lucky enough to have the legendary Stradivarius at the Newmarket event which made the day extra special as the children were able to meet him, which was a brilliant experience for them.
“Horseracing is a fantastic sport and we want to encourage more youngsters who traditionally would not consider this a career choice to consider coming into the racing and thoroughbred industry. There are hugely diverse roles available, beyond just the jockeys we see on the racecourses, all offering great future progression.”
Carey Weeks, Partnerships Director at The Jockey Club, said: “With the school summer holidays now well underway, it was fantastic that our partnership with Gallagher was able to deliver these two engaging ‘experience days’.
“Catering to two groups with very different demographics, the events at Exeter and at The National Stud in Newmarket both in their own way went to the very heart of what the partnership is about - opening up racing to young people from a wide range of backgrounds and enhancing engagement.
“We look forward to staging further events throughout the remainder of 2023 and beyond.”
Established in 1927, Gallagher is one of the largest insurance brokerage, risk management, and HR consultancy companies in the world employing over 43,000 people and providing services in more than 130 countries. For the past 12 years it has been recognised as one of the world’s most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute and supports a wide range of community sports initiatives across the globe.
About The Jockey Club
The Jockey Club is the largest commercial horseracing organisation in the UK, operating 15 of Britain’s most famous racecourses, including Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom Downs and the Rowley Mile and July Course at Newmarket. Governed by Royal Charter, all profits it makes are reinvested back into the sport.
About The Rio Ferdinand Foundation
The Rio Ferdinand Foundation is a youth and community development charity. The Foundation works in the heart of the UK's most disadvantaged communities, supporting young people (aged 10-25) to tackle the inequalities they face.
They create opportunities and pathways for young people to achieve their potential through sports, media, arts, and education. They empower young people to take control of their lives, become socially mobile, and drive social change in their communities through their work.