Askham Bryan College launches new horse-racing initiative

Liz Philip, Askham Bryan College's executive principal and Deirdre Johnston of Mark Johnston Racin

Liz Philip, Askham Bryan College's executive principal and Deirdre Johnston of Mark Johnston Racing, Middleham with Leyla's Hero ridden by Danielle Mooney Photo Mike Cowling - Credit: Archant

Thousands of pounds are being invested in a new college training project to meet the needs of the horseracing industry

A new initiative to attract more young people into the horseracing industry has been launched in Yorkshire. It includes the development of a £700,000 purpose-built racing yard, all-weather gallops, outdoor school and 16-box stable block at Askham Bryan College, near York.

The college is working in partnership with the British Horseracing Authority and the Racing Foundation to enhance the training of the college’s 300 equine students and will provide a range of racing-related courses at all levels, including stable staff, work riders, racing secretaries, sports turf management, pony racing, point-to-point jockey training and there will also be a PhD course. Work is expected to begin on the gallops in the summer ready for the first students in September.

‘This is exciting and extremely significant, not only for those with the dream of a career in racing but for UK racing as a whole,’ said Liz Philip, executive principal of Askham Bryan College. ‘It is hugely encouraging that our vision has been recognised so enthusiastically by the industry and beyond. The opportunities for young people are enormous – the Askham Bryan College Racing Stream will provide the skills and training needed to get that first foot on the racing ladder.

‘We are perfectly placed to help respond to the skills shortages reported by the BHA, as not only is Yorkshire renowned for first class racing, but our York campus is ideally situated between Malton and Middleham, the two main centres of racehorse training in the North. In addition, we already have strong links with industry, our equine courses are thriving, and we are the only UK college to have a point-to-point course on campus.’

The Askham Bryan College Racing Stream has won local and industry-wide support and a racing technical advisory committee has been established at the college to steer its development. Among the supporters are the National Trainers Federation, the National Association of Stable Staff, many of the northern-based trainers (including Mark Johnston, whose wife, Deirdre sits on the advisory committee), Yorkshire racecourses, the Pony Racing Authority, the Point-to-Point Association, North Yorkshire County Council and the North Yorkshire LEP.

Askham Bryan made its racing debut last year with the construction of a point-to-point course which has been used successfully by the Badsworth and Bramham Moor and West of Yore hunts as well as by students studying a range of courses.

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Rob Hezel, chief executive of the Racing Foundation welcomed the additional training for the horseracing industry. He said: ‘The Racing Stream will complement the existing provision at the British Racing School in Newmarket and the Northern Racing College in Doncaster, and ensure a comprehensive range of training opportunities for those interested in working in racing.’

His words were echoed by Carole Goldsmith, director of People and Development at the BHA who said: ‘We are keen to develop additional entry routes for racing industry entrants, particularly those who, with the correct knowledge and training, will provide a new pool of potential stable employees. This will give the industry a valuable additional training facility which each year will create hands-on racing expertise for 80 well-trained stud and stable staff as well as for a variety of other qualified personnel, such as, grounds staff, racing secretaries and veterinary nurses. We see this training provision as complementing the work of the existing racing schools and are keen to encourage collaborative activities between these important training providers.’