Michael Owen to compete at major British show, plus more sponsorship news

  • Former England footballer Michael Owen will be behind the wheel in the ride and drive competition at Bolesworth International Horse Show (29 June to 3 July) as part of a new partnership agreement.

    The former England striker turned racehorse owner/breeder has signed a deal with Bolesworth Estate to attend a number of events in the Cheshire venue’s calendar in 2022.

    Michael will be the “headline name” at Bolesworth International. He will join 20-time champion jockey AP McCoy and other celebrities from the sport and entertainment worlds competing in the ride and drive on “speed and style day” (30 June).

    “Bolesworth is a fabulous location with a superb event calendar running across the year – where there really is something for everyone to enjoy,” said Michael.

    “I am looking forward to the partnership and to be taking part in the first big event at Bolesworth this summer.

    “There is real synergy between Bolesworth and [my] Manor House Stables and I hope through this partnership there will be the opportunity to showcase horse racing and racehorse ownership to a new and interested audience.”

    Bolesworth Estate managing director Nina Barbour said that Michael, owner of nearby Manor House Stables, is a “familiar face” at Bolesworth.

    “It is wonderful that we have now taken this a step further,” said Nina, who added that Michael’s daughter, dressage rider Gemma Owen – who has recently entered the Love Island villa – has competed at Bolesworth in the past.

    “I am really looking forward to welcoming Michael to a host of events throughout the year ahead – and to be competing with him too in our big season launch event.”

    Riding a Dream Academy secures funding and expansion

    The Riding a Dream Academy has secured three years’ seed funding by the Racing Foundation to expand its programmes following a successful pilot year.

    The academy supports young riders aged 14 to 18 from diverse ethnic backgrounds, under-represented communities and urban equestrian centres get involved in racing.

    It currently runs the year-long Khadijah Mellah Scholarship for riders, plus a riding-based residential week at the British Racing School (BRS).
    A parent of one of the academy students said that the positive impact it has had on her daughter’s life is “immeasurable”.

    “Her lifelong dream of training as a jockey has been made possible by this opportunity and I hope she can continue to work towards her goals now that this door has opened,” the parent said. “It has literally changed her life in ways I could not have made possible – I am for ever grateful.”

    To date, 60% of the academy’s applicants, and 73% of students in the pilot year, are from diverse ethnic backgrounds. This compares to just 2% of jockeys and between 3 and 5% of individuals who currently go on the industry’s entry-level foundation course.

    The academy has also announced that it will add a non-riding residential week to its rosta, catering for large numbers applying who lacked access to horses and sufficient riding experience, as well as regional weeks to take the academy out into communities. All programmes will be delivered by the BRS team.

    “Being able to provide amazing opportunities to talented riders and young people with an interest in horse racing from a wide range of communities is at the heart of the academy,” said co-founder Naomi Lawson, who will move from her role of director of communications at Great British Racing to lead the academy.

    “We are excited to be able to expand our programmes and reach many more individuals thanks to the Racing Foundation’s funding. The pilot has demonstrated the impact that the academy can have in making racing more diverse and inclusive with our students already working in the industry, applying for the foundation course and taking up other opportunities within the sport.”

    ITV Racing’s Oli Bell, who co-founded the academy, said they are “incredibly grateful” to the Racing Foundation for its “enduring support” of the academy and sharing their vision of a more diverse and inclusive sport.

    “The foundation has been with us from the start when they helped to fund the original Riding A Dream documentary, which followed Khadijah Mellah’s incredible story [to become the first Muslim woman to participate – and win – a horse race in Britain], through to our pilot year,” he said.

    “For us to be in the position to support many other young people from diverse and under-represented backgrounds through their funding is a fitting legacy to all that Khadijah achieved and will help racing identify and support diverse talent from across the country.”

    Bates continues support of Riders Minds

    Bates Saddles is extending its support of Riders Minds for the second year.

    Riders Minds’ focus is on supporting the mental health of horse riders of all levels through online resources and a free, confidential 24-hour phone and text service.

    “As part of our commitment to the equestrian community, Bates Saddles are delighted to support Riders Minds to raise awareness and promote the importance of mental health,” said Bates Saddles managing director Ron Bates.

    “Hopefully, this initiative will help riders recognise warning signs, manage their stress and find help when needed.”

    Riders Minds is also supported by British Equestrian, TheraPlate, and Charles Owen.

    Boodles extends Gold Cup sponsorship after ‘epic’ 2022

    Jeweller Boodles is extending its sponsorship of the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival to 2023 and 2024.

    Boodles managing director Michael Wainwright said the company’s board had “no hesitation” in extending its association following the success of the 2022 Gold Cup.

    “After an epic build-up to this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and then a wonderful day for the race itself, capped by the charismatic Rachael Blackmore being the first female jockey to win it, the Boodles board had no hesitation in extending our association by another two years,” he said.

    “The whole experience was fabulous exposure for Boodles, and for me personally it provided one of the best days of my life.”

    Boodles is also extending its sponsorship of the Boodles juvenile handicap hurdle at the Festival, which it has supported since 2018, for a further two years and gains further sponsorship rights across the Jockey Club.

    Ian Renton, managing director for Cheltenham racecourse and the Jockey Club’s west region, said: “I am thrilled that Boodles has decided to further extend its relationship with the Festival by agreeing to sponsor the next two renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

    “After enjoying a record attendance this year, the 2023 running of the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on St Patrick’s Day and the great race celebrates its centenary in 2024, so I am sure there are some truly memorable days ahead.

    “Boodles is now approaching a decade of involvement with the Festival and hopefully has reaped the benefits of its association with the four biggest days in jump racing.

    “Coverage of the Festival seems to start earlier and be more extensive with each passing year and it was a milestone moment this year when the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup received its first broadcast on national television in the USA.

    “We look forward to continuing to work alongside the team at Boodles with their tremendous passion and commitment as well all our other partners, both old and new, in the coming times ahead.”

    NAF supports Hartpury summer fixtures

    Credit: Sally Newcombe

    NAF is continuing its support of major summer equestrian fixtures at Hartpury University and College this year.

    The supplement brand returns as title sponsor of Hartpury’s Festival of Dressage (5-10 July), Showjumping Spectacular (26-29 June) and the international horse trials (10-14 August).

    Eloise Chugg-Martin, UK sponsorship and events manager for NAF, said the fixtures are “such a principal part of our events calendar”.

    “We’re thrilled to welcome competitors new and returning, along with spectators, and are looking forward to a jam-packed summer of quality sport around Hartpury’s impressive venue,” she said.

    Phillip Cheetham, equine director at Hartpury, added that NAF is a “hugely important part of the Hartpury family and is synonymous with equestrianism at Hartpury”.

    “It’s a privilege to be aligned with a brand that is instantly recognisable and trusted by so many equestrians, as well as being a leading champion of clean sport,” he said.

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