Horse Week: 160 primary school children go behind the scenes at HRI Racing Juniors education day at Downpatrick Racecourse

SCHOOL children from five local schools took part in a special Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) Racing Juniors education day at Downpatrick Racecourse on Thursday, June 6 as the County Down racecourse gears up for their two-day meeting on Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16.

One hundred and sixty primary school children from St Colmcille’s Primary School, St Brigid’s Primary School, Our Lady and St Patrick Primary School, Downpatrick Primary School and St Patrick’s Primary School Legamaddy, got to go behind the scenes at Downpatrick and meet racehorse trainer Paddy Turley, whose training yard is based at the racecourse, and his racehorse Myleno.

Paddy explained what his job entails as a racehorse trainer as well as a typical day-to-day routine for his racehorses, their exercise schedule and diet, and how he prepares them to run in a race.

Jockey Declan Lavery brought the children into the weighroom to show them the jockeys’ changing room and the kit jockeys wear and use on race days including boots, back-protector, helmet and saddle.

Head Groundsman, Fintan Ward, along with Clerk of the Course, Brian Hamilton, explained how the team prepare the track for a race meeting and all the equipment required to maintain the racing surface. In addition, The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Enniskillen, were on hand to give children an opportunity to ride the racehorse simulator and farrier Rory Lavery explained the role of the farrier and the special skills and equipment required to treat racehorses’ hooves.

Ruth Morrison, General Manager Downpatrick Racecourse, commented: “We were delighted to welcome students from local schools to see behind the scenes at Downpatrick Racecourse.

“They loved the opportunity to race up the racetrack, meet the jockey, trainer, farrier and ride the racehorse simulator.

“It was a very positive day and hopefully we will have more days like this in the future to showcase the sport to the next generation.”

The objective of the HRI Racing Juniors education days is to encourage an affinity with racehorses among the younger generation and demonstrate the variety of careers available in the racing and breeding industry in Ireland.

HRI Racing Juniors education days are free to attend.

To register your school’s interest for a HRI Racing Juniors education day at your local racecourse in 2024, please email: [email protected]