Champion and Riding a Dream Academy

Supporting the young Champions on the Riding A Dream Academy

Throughout October it’s Black History Month, and that means it’s a great time to flag up the work being done by the Riding A Dream Academy and share the small way in which here at Champion we’re able to support them.

The Riding A Dream Academy is an amazing organisation that helps young people between the ages of 13 and 16 from underprivileged backgrounds and diverse communities get into British horseracing. It was inspired by the achievements of Khadijah Mellah, an incredible lady who was the first British Muslim woman to ride in and win a British horse race when she took part in the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood in 2019. Khadijah had learnt to ride at the famous Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, and she only sat on a racehorse for the first time a couple of months before the race! Since then, Khadijah has gone on to become an ambassador for Great British Racing, helping to spread the word about the people who work in racing and the extraordinary care the horses receive.

How the Riding A Dream Academy works

There are a few different ways that young people can learn more and get involved. Firstly, the Academy holds taster days for up to 10 young people aged 13 to 16 from schools and youth charities at the British Racing School. There, they get to ride for the very first time, try out their jockey pose on an Equiciser and learn about the different courses and careers in the sport. If they enjoy the day, they can apply for a place on a Residential Week! These are designed to give the young people a fun introduction to horse racing, riding and horse care over seven days, all funded by the Sir Peter O’Sullivan Charitable Trust . From there, the attendees can apply for a place on The Khadijah Mellah Scholarship.

The Khadijah Mellah Scholarship

This is Riding A Dream’s flagship programme for young people aged 14 to 16, and runs over the course of a year. There are spaces for eight young people each year and it involves a week’s residential course at the British Racing School getting under the skin of all things to do with riding and caring for horses, followed by 10 monthly weekend sessions. These take place from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon and include more riding and specialist coaching. The students also visit the races, stud farms, veterinary hospitals, farriers and try their hand at Pony Racing if they want to. The best news is that the students don’t have to pay a penny for this year-long experience, with all their travel, accommodation and food funded by The Racing Foundation. We’re proud to do our bit too, supplying all the students on The Khadijah Mellah Scholarship with a top-of-the-range Ti22 body protector and a Mips jockey skull to ensure they are safe when they’re in the saddle!

Success stories and big dreams

The Khadijah Mellah Scholarship has only been running since 2021 and there are already some brilliant success stories to share! For this blog we’re focusing on some of the achievements and stories of black students to mark Black History month. The very first student to graduate from the course in 2021 was O’Shane, and he went on to complete the Foundation Course at the British Racing School (BRS) and then started working in the industry. He’s now at a top flat yard in Newmarket, is lucky enough to ride some lovely horses every day and dreams about becoming a jockey. There’s also Aamilah and Hezekiah who both work at top jumps yards after successfully completing the scholarship and being the top students on their BRS Foundation Courses! A more recent scholarship graduate is Tonze, who learnt to ride at the Urban Equestrian Academy in Leicester before being supported by Riding A Dream. She graduated in July and is now on the Foundation Course at the BRS and making great progress.

We just love hearing about the amazing progress being made by the young people who get to learn to ride and take care of racehorses thanks to Riding A Dream. We’re also thrilled to be able to do our bit to ensure they have all the kit they need for their courses and their future careers. Make sure you follow Riding A Dream on Instagram for more inspiration stories as part of Black History Month and beyond.