Whilst race week is well underway in Cheltenham, two children from Gloucester are preparing for their own debut at the famous racecourse.
Anas Rhyman (13) and Aamilah Aswat (11), both began horse riding at the St. James City Farm Riding School in Tredworth, and 18 months later are ready to race at Cheltenham Racecourse on Good Friday April 14th, in the Pony Club races.
Anas will be riding ‘Spats’ who he raced at Wolverhampton Racecourse last year, and Aamilah will be on ‘Annie’ for her first ever race.
Anas, a pupil at Crypt School, said: “I always wanted to race – but would never have had the chance – it was just a dream as I don’t have a horse and didn’t know where to start – and when I learnt about the chance through the City Farm, I jumped at it”.
“The training has been hard, but I get a lot of support from different people, and once I learnt the basics, the Pony Racing Authority sent us to Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre to ride at real gallops with experienced jockeys such as Ollie McPhail, and we’re at a new level now. Spats is not very fast, but I’m just glad for the chance to race”.
Four children raced last year through the programme, with one taking first place at Lingfield and another coming in at third place at Wincanton.
The St. James City Farm is run by the Friendship Café, an organisation that aims to give young people in the Barton and Tredworth areas a more positive pathway into adulthood by building confidence and aspiration. Part funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the youth-led services encourage communities to work together towards producing a safer and more inclusive city.
Run mainly by volunteers, the City Farm Riding School is backed by a number of key equestrian organisations including the British Horse Society, the Equine department at Hartpury College and Olympic and Commonwealth Champion Emile Faurie.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Brierley visited the City Farm in January. He said, “One of the reasons I wanted to be Deputy Commissioner was because of projects like the City Farm. It has such a positive impact in the community and I’m proud that we are able to support it through the Commissioner’s Fund".
"For children who may not have had the chance to take up horse riding, the City Farm Riding School offers them a fantastic opportunity. The races at Cheltenham is one of the best things about our county, and I would argue that the City Farm is another. It’s great that The Friendship Café has brought the two together and I wish Anas and Aamilah the best of luck for their races!”