Racing Foundation funding boost for pony racing activities to create a “formal pathway” into racing 



  • £180,000 per year awarded for 5 years (2021-2025) to develop a formal pathway of activities as a progressive route into the racing industry. (see diagram attached)
  • Delivery to be overseen by the Pony Racing Authority, in collaboration with Racing to School, the Pony Club and Careers in Racing.
  • To include the expansion of activities such as pony racing academies, pony racing training days, engagement with Pony Club branches and centres and working with inner-city riding groups.
  • To improve diversity and inclusion by engaging with youngsters from a wider range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.


The Racing Foundation and Pony Racing Authority (PRA) are delighted to announce multi-year commitment to the development and delivery of a formal pathway into racing through pony racing.Over the past 13 years, pony racing has introduced hundreds of young people to racing, many of whom have progressed into roles as professional jockeys, amateur jockeys or have gone on to work in yards and on studs.

Historically, a wide range of activities have successfully been delivered by a number of organisations working independently so the development of this 5-year collaborative strategy aims to align activities as part of a formal pathway and to maximise their impact. It will build on the great progress already being made to train and develop jockeys and racing staff of the future.

The pathway strategy will involve direct collaboration between delivery partners, including the Pony Racing Authority, Racing to School, the Pony Club, Careers in Racing, the British Racing School and the National Horseracing College, and will include the expansion of activities such as :

  • Pony Racing Academies for youngsters with no link to racing and no pony of their own
  • Pony Club camp visits, training days and pony racing days.
  • Taster sessions and ‘Buzz’ days.
  • Careers advice and further training.
  • Training of pony racing instructors.
  • School visits and recruitment fairs.
  • Stand-alone pony racing days.
  • Development of track and trace systems to follow the progression of youngsters into racing.
  • There will also be a specific focus on increasing diversity and inclusion among pony racing participants by engaging with youngsters from a wider range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. The PRA has already established links with inner-city groups in London, Gloucester, Liverpool, Banbury, Leicester and Worcester but aims to widen this remit by reaching new audiences in other Pony Club Centres (for members who do not have their own ponies) and inner-city riding schools.

Some of the activities have been developed in response to a study commissioned by the PRA to look at barriers preventing youngsters from engaging and participating in pony racing. The pathway’s focus on diversity and inclusion aligns with the racing industry’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and more widely with the development of youth engagement schemes by other sports.

Racing Foundation funding will support activities until the end of 2025 and will include an independent evaluation of progress and impact at the end of 2022.

Clarissa Daly, CEO of the PRA, said:

“We are very excited to be part of this historic strategy. For the first time, racing will have a recruitment plan for its Junior League. Introducing young people from all backgrounds, making it possible for them to participate in pony racing will benefit racing in the long term.”

Tansy Challis, Grants Manager at the Racing Foundation, said:

“The Racing Foundation has funded several activities over the past few years that have engaged with youngsters to raise awareness of the racing industry and the career opportunities it offers. Response to pony racing activities, in particular, has been very positive and we are delighted to be supporting the delivery of a more formal pathway into racing that will see stakeholders working together to align activities and increase their impact. The focus on inclusivity and diversity is especially important to protect the future of the sport and we believe that pony racing will provide the ideal conduit for a youth engagement programme that will shape the jockeys, racing staff and racing supporters of the future.”

Marcus Capel, Pony Club CEO, said:

“The Pony Club is excited to continue working with this partnership to develop its Pony Racing offer and thankful to the Racing Foundation for its continued support.  The offering provides members with the chance to dip their toe in to the world of racing through to competitive races, from here they can progress to offer a coach to those interested through Continuous Professional Development sessions. We look forwards to more members and coaches getting involved in the sport from Branches and Centres alike.”

Charles Barnett, Pony Club Pony Racing Committee Chairman, said:

“The Pony Racing Committee would like to thank the Racing Foundation for their continued trust and support on our joint venture. We are very excited to work on increasing participation in the Sport being offered by the Pony Club and plan to provide our members through Branches and Centres with the chance to try Pony Racing.  We look forwards to seeing the pathway for young people to progress in racing in action and them moving through the organisations to enjoy racing, either as a sport, hobby or career.”

John Blake, Chief Executive of Racing to School, said:

“Racing to School is grateful to The Racing Foundation for providing long-term funds for this partnership programme, which will offer new, practical opportunities for young people. Our existing Riders’ Programme has evidenced the potential for this work, and taught us how best to engage with young equestrians; there is an openness to learn about racing as an alternative to other, perhaps more familiar equine sports. This new structured programme led by The Pony Racing Authority can only build on this work and that of the other specialist partners.”

Zoe Elliott, Head of Careers Marketing and Recruitment, British Horseracing Authority, said:

“Developing this strategy has been a real collaborative effort, and as a team we have really focussed on how we will work together to deliver these opportunities for young people. So often racing can seem out of reach to many; but these initiatives will take access to racing straight into the heart of communities and groups giving them a chance to participate.  By getting involved young people will both have the opportunity to increase their skills but also the confidence to see that racing welcomes them as a sport they could be involved in for life; either as a fan, participant or employee”.

Notes to editors:

  1. The pony racing progression pathway can be viewed here.
  2. As of July 2020, 179 pony racing graduates hold a licence to ride in the UK, of which 149 currently hold BHA licences: (including 8 Professionals on the Flat; 19 Professionals NH; 24 Apprentices; 25 Conditionals; 23 Cat A). Pony racing graduates include a number of high-profile jockeys such as Hollie Doyle; Tom Marquand; Megan Nicholls; Sam Twiston-Davies; Harry Cobden; Josephine Gordon; Charlie Bishop; Sean Bowen; Rex Dingle; Jonjo O’Neill Jnr; Tyler Heard and Bryony Frost.
  3. In 2019, 340 taster days were delivered; 331 youngsters participated in pony racing training; 437 youngsters rode in a pony race; 14 pony racing graduates went on to hold BHA jockey licenses.
  4. To date, over 100 youngsters have taken part in pony racing academies across 28 schemes and over 50% went on to ride in a second race. 21 academy graduates now work in the racing industry.
  5. The Racing Foundation was established in January 2012  by the British Horseracing Authority, the Horsemen’s Group and Racecourse Association, as a charity, to oversee the distribution of funds to charitable causes within racing following the sale of the Tote. We are registered with the Charity Commission under the law of England and Wales (no. 1145297). Our purpose is to make a difference in racing by acting as a catalyst and a funder of improvement. The Trustees of the Racing Foundation are Ian Barlow (Chairman), Linda Bowles, Susannah Gill, Mark Johnston, Louise Kemble and William Rucker. Since inception, the Racing Foundation has granted over £20million to charities associated with the horseracing and Thoroughbred breeding industry in the UK, supporting work in social welfare, education and training, horse welfare, equine science research, and heritage and culture.
  6. The Pony Racing Authority has particular responsibility for integrity and safety. The PRA governs the sport at the grass roots Point-to-Point level as well as the prestigious Racecourse Series. The PRA works closely with the Pony Club to support entry level pony racing via the Pony Club Race Days. We also work closely with the Pony Club to organise pony racing training.Shareholders of the PRA are the Racecourse Association, The Jockey Club, the Point-to-Point Secretaries Association and the Master of Foxhounds Association. Representatives from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and The Pony Club also sit on the PRA Board in observer positions. The PRA is a company limited by guarantee and all money raised by the PRA is invested into Pony Racing.
  7. The Pony Club is an international voluntary youth organisation for young people interested in ponies and riding. Founded in England in 1929, and granted independent charitable status on 1st January 1997, there are around 345 Branches and 480 Centres in the UK alone. The Pony Club has been the starting point for a large majority of equestrian team members and medal winners. The Pony Club currently offers nine sports to its members including Pony Racing, this sport offering is achieved through educational work (Achievement Badges), training and competitions which are held at prestigious racecourses.The objectives of The Pony Club include encouraging young people to connect with horses and riding through all kinds of sports, horsemanship, welfare of the equines in members care, teaching members citizenship, sportsmanship and other ideals.
  8.  Racing to School is a registered charity responsible for the development and delivery of racing-related education programmes. Delivered free to schools at racecourses, studs and trainers’ yards across the UK, Racing to School’s lively approach supports children and young people by demonstrating a practical application of a range of National Curriculum subjects and sparking a knowledge and understanding of the sport of horseracing. Since 2016 the charity has also delivered the Riders’ Programme, which encourages young people who already ride and/or have an interest in another equine discipline to consider racing as a possible career route. The charity ran over 370 events in 2019, engaging more than 15,000 beneficiaries.
  9.  Careers in Racing is the central careers marketing and recruitment brand for British racing run by the British Horseracing Authority. The team implements recruitment initiatives and marketing campaigns to promote racing careers and pathways to a range of audiences from school age to those looking to change careers.