Horses, Heritage and History feature in another successful Dubai Future Champions Education Week

Last week saw the successful completion of another year of the Dubai Future Champions Education Week in Newmarket. This project allows Year 8 pupils from the Newmarket Academy to take part in a series of activities throughout the week, culminating in a day at the Rowley Mile racecourse for the whole year group.

Newmarket partners welcome Academy pupils

The week was split into four activity days, with each pupil in the year group getting a chance to take part in every event. The Programme is a joint venture between the Academy, Godolphin, Palace House, Newmarket Racecourse and Racing to School, which manages the activities. Additional support is kindly provided by partners at The British Racing School, Rossdales Hostpital, Sefton Lodge Stables and Discover Newmarket.

The theme of the first day was Racing Heritage and involved a trip to Palace House, the National Horseracing Museum and then on to Godolphin’s Dalham Hall stud. At Palace House, pupils focused on the history and architecture of the venue, which was built by King Charles II in the 1600s; they learned about the importance of the site to the history of racing.

Palace House Education Officer Gabrielle Bell said: “Palace House is delighted to be part of Dubai Future Champions Education Week. Pupils have been able to explore the rich heritage of Newmarket and its racing industry. They have engaged with its stories past and present: they will now create the chapters of the future.”

At Dalham Hall, the groups were given a talk about the history of Dubai by students from Godolphin’s Masar programme, which highlighted the investment and love H H Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has for horses and horseracing.

Life at Dalham Hall Stud

A trip to the Stud would not be complete without having the opportunity to see the stallions. Looking in magnificent shape basked in autumn sunshine, the pupils had the chance to meet the Darley Stallions, New Approach and Dubawi (pictured below).

Learning how the sport cares for its horses

Veterinary Science and horse welfare were an important focus on day two, with the groups stopping off at Rossdales Equine Hospital and The British Racing School. Rossdales has long supported the horseracing industry and achieved remarkable results in their cutting edge treatment of injuries. Pupils were introduced to the anatomy of the horse and some of the specific issues that the team deal with at the hospital.

The visit to the British Racing School always ranks highly with the pupils, not least the chance to test their riding skills on the Equiciser. It was at the School that the groups were given an insight into some of the many jobs that are available within the sport, within an industry that operates so widely across their home town.

A big price can be paid for potential stars

The buses returned to Palace House on Wednesday to see yet another vital cog in racing: the work of the charity Retraining of Racehorses (RoR). On show were a number of ex-racehorses who had been found a home and a life after their exploits on the track.

The buying and selling of horses is a furious business and nowhere is this more in evidence than around the sales ring at the world-famous Tattersalls, where one of the world’s leading yearling sales was taking place. This was one of the most exciting visits of the week and some groups saw lots (horses for sale) reach a price of over a million guineas. You can see a video of the event below:

At the heart of the action: gallops to racecourse

The amount of work it takes to get horses fit and fast was explained to pupils on day four. To watch horses train, at rest and on to where many of them will compete against each other was the groups’ itinerary. They were assembled at the training base at Warren Hill and in a busy working yard at Sefton Lodge Stables. They also went on to one of the town’s two racecourses, the Rowley Mile.

Dubai Future Champions Education Week all came together with a trip to the races on Friday for Future Champions Day, which included four Group races. The pupils saw some high-quality racing and could fit together many of the facets of their week-long activities, contextualising the information gathered across the town’s main industry.

Amy Starkey, Regional Director of The Jockey Club East Region said:

“Newmarket Racecourses was delighted to support the fourth Dubai Future Champions Education Week and to see the 146 pupils cap their week with an afternoon on the Rowley Mile to soak up the atmosphere of the Dubai Future Champions Festival.

“The contribution made by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to the programme has been extremely generous and represents his passion for young people’s education, in addition to his commitment to Newmarket and our local community.”

The first race on the card was titled the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes, named after Racing to School’s on-going programme with the school and some pupils were given the honour of presenting the winning trophy to multiple-champion trainer Aidan O’Brien (pictured below).

Reflecting on the week, Ollie McPhail, Racing to School’s Programme Manager said: “This is always a fantastic event and we are delighted to have taken on the role of managing the activity this year. It gives pupils a really broad and in-depth knowledge about the sport of horseracing; the horses themselves and the history and importance of the industry within the Newmarket community, of which these pupils are a part.”

Richard Hall, Assistant Principal at the Academy added: “The week aims to help raise the employment aspirations and expectations of the Academy’s students, helping them to engage with the history and heritage of the town and community they live in and create a fun and fresh environment in which to learn.

“As always, the week’s activities culminates on Dubai Future Champions Day at The Rowley Mile for a day of racing, where parents are invited to join their children free of charge. An essential experience for the students at Newmarket Academy.”

Racing to School is extremely grateful to Godolphin, Palace House, Newmarket Racecourse and all of the partners that have contributed to making this event a success, so too the Academy staff who have worked so hard in delivering the activities.

Above all, we wish to thank the pupils who were enthusiastic and engaged throughout each activity and now can speak with great knowledge and pride about the global reputation of their town and its love of horses.