The Jockey Club has launched an exciting initiative in conjunction with WellChild and the Cotswold Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), giving children the opportunity to groom and ride a pony at the Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse.
Watch the full video here.
“Giddy Up For Good” officially started on Tuesday 24th August, when eight WellChild-supported youngsters attended sessions led by the experienced Cotswold RDA team, whose centre is based on-site at the racecourse. Each child participated in a “Groom, Tack and Ride” lesson which not only gave them the opportunity to ride, but spend time with the ponies and develop a bond.
Racing legend and WellChild ambassador Sir Anthony McCoy joined the children for the session to present rosettes, give exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of the racecourse and even show them the original 1924 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
AP McCoy, who was Champion Jump Jockey an unprecedented 20 times, said: “It has been an incredible afternoon here at Cheltenham. As an ambassador for WellChild I know how important the support they offer to their families is and giving children the opportunity to ride here at Cheltenham thanks to the Cotswold RDA and The Jockey Club is an unbelievable experience for them.
“The children haven’t stopped smiling the whole time they have been here and it is has been a wonderful event to be a part of. I am looking forward to the next few.”
Ian Renton, Regional Managing Director of The Jockey Club, said: “It has been a joy to be able to offer the children the opportunity to ride the RDA ponies in this iconic venue. When we struck up our partnership with WellChild in February 2021, we knew it was the start of a fantastic relationship. We are very lucky to have the Cotswold RDA based on site with us all year round, so to be able to work in conjunction with the RDA team and WellChild to offer this unique opportunity for the children and their families is wonderful.
“We are looking forward to continuing these sessions and giving more children the opportunity to not only ride, but spend time with the ponies and experience all the benefits we know that can have.”
Cotswold RDA runs a variety of riding lessons and unmounted sessions from its base in the heart of Cheltenham Racecourse.
Claire Jenkins, General Manager of Cotswold RDA, said: “Cotswold RDA is delighted to be working on this exciting project. We hope that this will develop into a closer working relationship between Cotswold RDA and WellChild and will make a difference to more disabled children’s lives by riding and spending time with our very special ponies.
“I would like to thank The Jockey Club for arranging this project but also for their incredible support of our work with disabled adults and children over the last four decades.”
Matt James, WellChild’s Director of Communications and Engagement, said: “This is a fantastic fun event to be involved in and we would like to thank The Jockey Club and Cotswold RDA for this brilliant opportunity for our families to have an experience that they might not otherwise be able to access. Today’s event strikes right at the heart of WellChild’s core mission, which is to give children with serious health needs the very best chance to thrive.
“We are delighted to be here at the racecourse with some of the Gloucestershire families we support along with our Cheltenham-based WellChild Nurse Nina Griffiths. We are working hard to reach ever more families who need us in the area both through Nina’s hard work and through our other programmes like the WellChild Family Tree peer-to-peer network, which many local families with seriously ill children are taking part in.”
Watch the full video here.