A memorable Family Fun Day of celebration, despite the summer rain!
Last Saturday, 22nd July, families from all over the UK flocked to Newmarket (we even had some guests from Scotland!), the heart of British horse racing, to participate in The British Racing School’s inaugural Family Fun Day, in celebration of 40 years of operation. With an exciting array of activities, demonstrations, and, of course, the thrill of witnessing these majestic animals up close, the event promised an unforgettable day for everyone involved. Unfortunately, the great British weather lived up to its reputation and delivered grey clouds and heavy rain (in July!), but our spirits were not dampened and the crowds were still smiling.
Before delving into the day itself, let’s take another moment to understand the significance of The British Racing School. Founded in 1983, the school plays a pivotal role in nurturing and training aspiring jockeys and stable staff. With state-of-the-art facilities and a team of experienced professionals, the institution has earned a reputation for producing some of the finest talent in the horse racing world. Not only that, but it strives to promote the opportunities available in racing to some of the most underserved communities in the UK.
The day began with an undoubted highlight; the chance to meet some of our most celebrated equine athletes, without whom the School could not function. Guests young and old alike marvelled at the beauty and power exuded by these magnificent creatures (before the rain had really got stuck in). Students at the School were tasked with preparing and leading the horses around the arena and all rose to the challenge of turning them out to the highest standards – they looked fantastic!
A competitive fever-pitch arose when a field of eight Shetland ponies entered the ring with their young jockeys, for the Shetland Pony Grand National. The race was started by legendary Bob Champion, Newmarket based former Grand National winner, cancer survivor and fundraising stalwart, and it was thrilling to see such a wonderful display of horsemanship from such young riders.
Another hugely rewarding sight was the popularity of the Newmarket Pony Academy pony rides. The flourishing local community project based at BRS, was inundated with visitors all day, with several of their ponies (and staff and students) taking laps of the courtyard, being enjoyed by new riders. For the younger attendees, this was the perfect opportunity to experience the joy of riding atop one of our treasured ponies, a treat that is so often unavailable to many. We’re not sure how many steps the ponies or the staff did throughout the day, but the queue of children wanting a ride was unabating all day, until they finally called a halt sometime after 4pm.
Time ticked along quickly and soon the hotly contested show-jumping competition was underway. A source of great excitement, as the contest saw many staff, former students and BRS horses take to the arena. The dog show followed soon after and the young handlers’ class was a particular favourite, with all the children taking part doing fantastically well to show off their canine friends.
The fun continued with the racehorse simulator proving hugely popular, an enormous number of beautifully presented stalls and exhibitions and wonderful live music performed by The Three Chordettes, whilst the facepainter worked tirelessy in the corner of the marquee, transforming little people into exotic butterflies and superheroes!
In short, the family fun day provided a perfect fusion of entertainment and education, and a great starting point to develop future Family Fun Day events. It was a unique opportunity for families to connect with the world of horse racing and gain a deeper appreciation for the incredible sport. The British Racing School’s commitment to nurturing and educating future horseracing talent ensures a bright and exciting future for the sport in the UK; it really is a vital institution.
To continue to support the School, please do sign up to our monthly newsletter (at the foot of this page), or donate – it really does make a huge difference to the running of the School.
Find out more about the Newmarket Pony Academy HERE