Racing Victoria (RV), in partnership with the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) and Kelly Sports, today launched its pioneering new equine school holiday program, Saddle Up, at the iconic Flemington Racecourse.
The unique, full-day school holiday program provides a range of horse-related activities for primary aged children including learning the fundamentals of riding a horse under the guidance of a recognisable Victorian jockey.
History making hoop Michelle Payne took part in the launch, teaching the lucky children in attendance how to ride a horse.
Hosted by Seven Network and RSN’s Michael Felgate, the launch saw children participate in a range of arts and crafts activities, including making their own craft noodle horses and taking part in a mock race named the Saddle Up Cup.
Racing Victoria CEO, Giles Thompson, said the Saddle Up program is a novel way for the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry to increase awareness and promote grassroots participation in the sport.
“This new program provides inner city Melbourne children with a wonderful opportunity to learn to ride a horse which is often not available to them without travelling far distances,” Thompson said.
“It also offers a solution to a community-wide issue around full day child care during the school holidays with a different offering in a large community facility like Flemington Racecourse on a non-raceday,”
“With almost 70 racecourses throughout Victoria, we are hopeful there will be many opportunities to extend the offering of Saddle Up in the future.”
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne said it is great to be involved in a program like Saddle Up.
“I have loved horses and riding since I was born and it’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to help encourage kids to not only be comfortable around horses, but also how to ride them.
"It’s wonderful to see the joy that meeting a horse for the first time brings to these kids and I’m happy to be involved in the program.”
VRC Executive General Manager Customer Engagement Caroline Ralphsmith said the Club’s involvement would provide local families with additional holiday care service options.
“Opening up the opportunities that come with living near such a unique, globally recognised facility is what the Club’s community program is all about.
“We look forward to welcoming children from the local community and across Melbourne and Victoria to learn about the wonder and beauty of caring for and working with horses.”
Steve Martin, Director of Kelly Sports, said the Saddle Up Holiday program is a unique offering unlike any other.
“Kelly Sports is excited in creating a partnership with Racing Victoria and the Victoria Racing Club to facilitate the Saddle Up holiday program on behalf of Racing Victoria.
“The program provides children from the wider community the opportunity to learn about horse related activities in a fun engaging way along with learning about the rich history of the iconic Flemington Racecourse.
“Kelly Sports has nearly 25 years’ experience in facilitating holiday programmes and we are excited to bring the Saddle Up Holiday program to life!”
The schedule includes a fun-filled scavenger hunt around Flemington Racecourse and at the end of each day, children can have their photo taken with their parents and a Melbourne Cup trophy.
The full day program costs $80 per child per day and officially begins on Tuesday, 25 September, before running over four days (Tuesday 25, Thursday 27 September and Tuesday 2, Thursday 4 October 2018) throughout the school holidays at the picturesque Flemington Racecourse. There are 50 spots available per day.
For further information and to book into this new program visit: www.racingvictoria.com.au/saddle-up