The Newmarket Pony Academy will launch in April to give young people in and around the town the opportunity to have close contact with horses and ponies with backers including Godolphin and the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust.
While Newmarket is the headquarters of racing, there is currently no provisions for young people to learn to ride unless they have family involvement. The creation of the NPA will change this.
The British Racing School, where the NPA will be based, has been working with local schools, West Suffolk Council and Godolphin to make the academy a reality. A successful pilot has been carried out during this time.
Set to launch in April, a range of programmes to meet the needs of different groups of young people including:
• One-week courses for Year 6 pupils from local primary schools which will introduce them to ponies whilst making use of a different learning environment to engage them in core subjects. These courses will build on the curriculum, which students are studying, whilst also building confidence and resilience.
• Breakfast, afterschool and holiday clubs for local young people identified by teachers and social workers as at risk of being drawn into criminality or likely to face challenges as they move from primary to secondary school. It is hoped that engaging with the NPA regularly will give these young people a positive constant in their lives.
• One day per week course for students from The Newmarket Academy Polaris centre. The centre provides bespoke and individual education for young people in Years 7 to 11 with communication and interaction needs. It is well established that interaction with horses and ponies is of great benefit to this group of young people. You can find out more about the Polaris centre here.
• Working in partnership with existing urban riding clubs such as the Urban Equestrian Academy in Leicester and the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, the NPA will provide their members with an opportunity to attend residential weeks at the BRS to learn about racehorses and the wider racing industry.
• The NPA will also provide the opportunity to re-establish a Newmarket Riding For the Disabled (RDA) group.
Nigel Payne, Trustee of the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, said: “The NPA is a fantastic initiative and one we are delighted to support. Sir Peter was passionate about horses, horseracing and young people and I know he would be delighted to have been associated with this project.”
British Racing School Finance Director Andrew Braithwaite added: “The case for racing becoming more open and inclusive is clear and the NPA will allow us and the wider industry to give young people a real insight into horseracing regardless of their background, for those bitten by the bug, a route into the industry.
“I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Trust for their generous support of this project and to the team at Godolphin for their vision and drive.”
Penny Taylor, Godolphin’s UK Charities Manager, said: “Horses are the fabric of Newmarket, but the majority of children growing up here have no opportunity to even touch one. We believe we have a responsibility to change that and make the positives of involvement with horses available to as many people as possible.”