Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) held a 'Go Racing Kids' Club' Day at Dundalk Racecourse on Wednesday, September 24
, ahead of the return of dual racing at Dundalk Stadium today, Friday September 26
The objective of the 'Go Racing Kids' Club' initiative is to build ties between the racecourses and their local community, encouraging an affinity with racing which will hopefully produce future racegoers. The activities educate school children about racing and show them what happens behind the scenes at the racecourse.
A total of 344 fifth and sixth class pupils from local schools took part in demonstrations from R.A.C.E. (Racing Academy & Centre of Education) and heard talks from Jockey Andrew Leigh and Castlebellingham, Co. Louth Trainer Michael O'Hare about their day-to-day routines and life in racing. The pupils also met Dundalk Stadium Sales and Marketing Manager, Emma Meehan, who explained how the team at Dundalk Stadium prepares for a raceday. The children were entertained by Marie-Lou Donnelly from 'Front Runner - Racing Club for Kids' with racing games, puzzles and quizzes. She also showed the pupils racing silks, horse shoes, racing tack, and feed.
All the pupils received a 'Go Racing Kids' Club' goodie bag at the end of the day which included complimentary tickets to go racing at Dundalk.
Emma Meehan, Sales and Marketing Manager at Dundalk Stadium commented: "The Go Racing Kids Club was a huge success - all of the children seemed to really enjoy it. There was a lot of interest from the local schools. We were originally anticipating about 200 participants and we had almost 350 on the day. They loved meeting the jockey and trainer but the racehorse and the mechanical version were definitely the biggest hits."
Trainer Michael O'Hare said: "I couldn't believe how interested the school kids were in what it takes to train a horse and in racing in general. I wasn't expecting as many knowledgeable questions - they certainly kept me on my toes! I think having a racetrack in the locality has generated a lot more enthusiasm for the sport."