The British Racing School (BRS) in Newmarket had a special visit from the chief inspector of education, Sir Michael Wilshaw, last week (28 October).
Sir Michael went to the school to see the young jockeys in training, as well as visiting trainers in the town — Sir Michael Stoute and David Simcock — who are employing students on the BRS apprenticeship programme.
BRS chairman Martin Mitchell presented Sir Michael with a shoe from Our Vic, a retired Grade One-winning chaser who now lives at the BRS.
On the same day as Sir Michael’s visit, three riders from the BRS’s fifth pony racing academy graduated in style at the Pony Club racing day at Lingfield Park.
The first on the track was 15-year-old Oliver Daykin aboard Along Came Belle. The Bedfordshire-based young jockey had been going to the BRS every Saturday for the past 14 weeks for training.
In a hotly-run race Oliver came in a creditable fifth carrying the colours of Sheikh Hamdam al Maktoum.
The two other BRS academy riders, Kate Maplethorpe and Jack Abbey, did battle in the final mile-long race.
Kate Maplethorpe, riding Worth the Wait in the Niarchos family colours, finished third and Jack on Time Will Tell came home fifth in Charles Wentworth’s colours.
The pony racing academy was started three years ago and many of the children that have been through are “now intent on pursuing a future career in the racing industry,” said BRS operations manager Clare Higgins.
The academy gives children aged 13-15 tuition on the school’s racing ponies over 12 consecutive Sundays from 8am to 12noon.
Along with race-riding lessons, students will be tutored in horse management and how to prepare a pony for the races.
The course is free and is open to children who are competent at walk, trot and canter and weigh under 9st 7lbs (60kg).
The next pony racing academy starts on the 22 November.