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National equestrian centre for Scotland

Multi-million pound plans for a national equestrian centre have been unveiled by Oatridge College in Scotland.

Oatridge College, Edinburgh, home of the Scottish Racing Academy, has unveiled an ambitious £3million plan for a national equestrian centre.

The project, which has the backing of sporting bodies such as the Scottish Equestrian Association and sportscotland, aims to provide a top-class venue for competition and training in addition to its current educational facilities.

Director of the college, David James, explains: “We are the largest provider of equine education north of the border, and the only provider of farrier education in Scotland. In our central-belt location, the development of facilities in conjunction with the new racing academy could attract new blood into the industry.”

The proposed facilities include a national indoor arena (80m x 47m), as well as a covered warm up area, all-weather exercise gallops, a range of cross-country fences and on-site stabling.

As well as providing a central-Scottish competition and training centre, the project is expected to generate as many as 90 full-time jobs, safeguarding a further 1,000 in the equestrian industry. In addition, Mr James is hopeful that it will improve Scotland’s top-level equine education:

“At the moment there tends to be a drift into the English system at higher educational levels. Our aspiration would be eventually to offer a degree, and above all to provide better, and more, opportunities our side of the border,” he says.

The plans have been in the pipeline for over twelve months, and all that remains is to secure funding for the project. But with pledges of support from high-profile organisations including the Scottish Further Education Funding Council, the SEA and sportscotland, those involved are confident that proposals should come together fairly quickly.

“We are trying to establish the funding, and although we’ve had a very positive response so far, it is an ongoing process,” says Mr James. “We already have planning permission and I imagine that ideally we would like to cut the first sod at the back end of this year, but until the funding is in place, we’ll have to remain flexible.”

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