Local children now have the opportunity to attend a free summer riding school at the iconic Aintree Racecourse during the school holidays, thanks to a new community programme in the city designed to provide healthy food and activities.
The scheme sees Park Palace Ponies, an inner-city riding school based in Toxteth, join forces with the home of the Randox Grand National Festival to provide a pop-up summer riding school at the racecourse for six weeks, running from July 24th to September 5th.
Seven ponies are housed and cared for in special stables on the racecourse throughout that period, allowing for a total of 120 children a week aged between five and 10 to be able to have riding and pony care sessions without charge.
The scheme is aimed at those who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals during term time and parents are able to book slots for their children on a week-by-week basis, providing them with both healthy meals and free holiday club provision throughout the summer holidays.
Along with the pony riding and care sessions, the children are provided with a “Guided Tour” of the world famous racecourse, while a handful of older volunteers from Park Palace aged from 11 to 17 are on hand to help out with duties such as tacking up and mucking out the ponies.
The initiative is part of Liverpool City Council’s wider goal to engage local children in the community and will run every day, with Thursdays being dedicated to the older volunteers.
Dickon White, Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, commented: “It’s fantastic to be able to team up with Park Palace Ponies once again and provide some really meaningful support to the local community during the summer holidays.
“We’ve really enjoyed hosting Park Palace for their graduation ceremonies in the past and it’s great to be able to give children what we hope will be an unforgettable experience, spending time with ponies and riding at the home of the world’s most famous horse race.”
Keith Hackett, Chair of the Board at Park Palace Ponies, added: “We’re thrilled to take what we do to the next level by offering a free summer riding school at one of the most iconic venues in both horseracing and equestrian sport.
“It really is wonderful to be able to offer children from the inner city opportunities like this and so far the uptake has been fantastic. The summer holidays can be a long time for families who rely on the support of free school meals and I can’t thank both The Jockey Club and Liverpool City Council enough for their help in getting this off the ground.”