VIDEO: Young Brixton Riders Enjoy Early Christmas Gift With Ultimate Racing Experience
Three youngsters from one of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in London, Brixton, were treated to a very special Christmas gift as they visited Ascot Racecourse and Uplands Stables in Lambourn.
Oshane (13), Grace and Abdus (both 15) from Ebony Horse Club, a community riding centre in Brixton that teaches life skills, builds confidence and provides opportunities for children from disadvantaged areas, spent the day behind the scenes at the world-famous Ascot Racecourse as well as the home of jumps trainer Warren Greatrex.
The two days, which were the children’s first ever visits to a racecourse and racing stables, have been documented in a mini-series which has been revealed ahead of the festive period.
During their thrilling day at Ascot Racecourse, the youngsters were hosted by jockey coach, Nick Bentley, and were given exclusive access at the course, meeting ITV Racing Presenter, Rishi Persad, trainer, Warren Greatrex and jockey, Gavin Sheehan. They were also taken behind the scenes to the weighing room where they were greeted by Clerk of the Scales, Ollie Mann.
Sheehan, currently 15th in the Stobart Jump Jockeys’ Championship, made a particularly good impression on Abdus, who has been a member of Ebony Horse Club for six years and has aspirations of being a jockey himself. “Meeting jockey Gavin Sheehan gave me a good insight into a potential career for me in the future. He explained a lot about daily life and what it takes to be a professional jockey.”
Meeting Rishi and others on the day enlightened Grace, who has been at Ebony Horse Club for eight years, but was still surprised by the extensive roles within the industry, “Today has taught me that you don’t have to be a jockey to be in the racing industry, you could be a presenter like Rishi or the Clerk of the Scales.”
In episode two, they spent the morning at Uplands Stables where they were given some insight into the world of a Grade 1 winning trainer as they chatted to Warren Greatrex.
Greatrex went on to explain to the trio how he looks for characteristics in jockeys that are: “Brave, strong, intelligent. They need a really good work ethic and obviously weight is key.”
Throughout the day, they met various staff including Ian Yeats, Head Groom at Uplands, and Grace was delighted by what she saw at the yard. “Seeing the racing yard is an amazing experience. There’s so much work being put in from the office to the yard manager – it’s really, really amazing.”
The youngsters were then finally treated to the ultimate experience as they were given a free jockey lesson by Nick Bentley, where they got to experience first-hand what it’s like to ride a racehorse.
Bentley said: ““Grace, Oshane and Abdus are three tremendously aspirational young riders and are a credit to the number of young men and women that are helped everyday by Ebony Horse Club. It was a real pleasure to host them at both the yard and Ascot Racecourse, and I was particularly impressed by their skills on the equisizer in the jockey lesson! This series is a fantastic example of how horseracing can make a huge difference to the lives of young disadvantaged people and can make those dreams come true!”
ITV Racing’s Oli Bell, who is a patron of Ebony Horse Club, said: “Having seen first-hand the superb work at Ebony it became apparent very quickly that this is a really special place. The club has a monumental impact on the lives of young men and women from the inner city of London and through the relationship with horses these young men and women are able to learn so many important characteristics such as respect, discipline, kindness, team spirit and community. That is the beauty of Ebony. Everyone is in it together.”