Eighteen youngsters will become the first cohort to join the Riding A Dream Academy when they embark on a residential week and the prestigious Khadijah Mellah Scholarship in August.
The academy, which aims to support talented riders aged 14-18 from underrepresented groups and communities to get involved in horse racing, is funded by the Racing Foundation and inspired by Khadijah Mellah, the first British Muslim woman to win a horserace in the UK.
Ten of the 18 selected riders will take part in the residential week, a riding-based course which acts as an introduction to racing, and the remaining eight have been accepted for the Khadijah Mellah Scholarship. Both courses will be delivered by the British Racing School.
Aamilah Aswat, from Gloucester, is one of those selected for the scholarship and he said: “I am so excited to have been accepted onto the Khadijah Mellah Scholarship. I have always loved horses and my dream is to ride in and win the Grand National.
“I recently won my first pony race on Zara, the pony bought for St James’ City Farm by the Jockey Club and it was so amazing. I am so pleased that through the scholarship I will be able to get even more experience in racing and hopefully achieve all my dreams.”
Other successful candidates are riders from Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, Park Lane Riding Stables in Twickenham, and the Urban Equestrian Academy in Leicester.
Mellah added: “We have been overwhelmed with the response to the Riding A Dream Academy and it has been really humbling to have read so many incredible applications from young people with a passion for racing.
“We are so excited to be welcoming our first attendees this summer and hope that the academy will become a long-term project which continues to support young people who wouldn’t otherwise have a pathway into racing.
“If just one of our attendees went on to ride in a race because they had been given the chance to be on the academy, I would be over the moon.”
“By funding the Riding A Dream Academy, the Racing Foundation is supporting British racing’s long-term ambition to create a truly diverse, inclusive and welcoming sport,” said the Racing Foundation’s Chief Executive Rob Hezel.
“We’d like to offer our congratulations to all the young riders who have been selected to take part in the Residential Week and the Khadijah Mellah Scholarship, and hope they enjoy every moment of this exciting opportunity.”