British horse racing have vowed to make the sport “more inclusive” after July’s launch of their diversity action plan.

But will riders from inner-city communities and ethnic minorities continue to face barriers in the sport?

On Monday, BBC Inside Out West will feature a documentary with 15-year-old Muslim Anas Rhyman from Gloucester, following his dream to become a jockey.

“This sport is not white only and never has been,” Hamilton Park’s racing manager Sulekha Varma told BBC Sport.

Varma, who is a member of the British Horseracing Authority’s [BHA] diversity in racing steering group, added: “We have to recognise that there have been barriers in the past.

“It [racing] is diverse to an extent, but we want to make it more inclusive. But we are in for the long haul. We’re not expecting to turn this around in 12 months.”

The BHA’s steering group, which contains 16 individuals from the racing industry, was set up in November 2017 after a report highlighted prejudice and barriers limiting the development of women in racing.

The governing body will appoint a new head of diversity and inclusion in the coming weeks.

“We already know that the betting public within betting shops are a very diverse group of people, but we’re not necessarily seeing them come to the racecourses,” Varma continued.

“We’re also looking at it from a racing-workforce perspective, not just jockeys, but stable staff, racecourse staff and the make-up of boards at the big players in the industry, at every single level.

“We want to make sure that we’re attracting as broad a range of people to come and work in the sport as we can.”

Rhyman, who is from Tredworth in Gloucester, trains at St James City Farm & Riding School in the city, run by Imran Atcha, and competed in a junior race at Cheltenham in March.

The riding school is one of five across the country to have recently received funding from the Pony Racing Authority to help make racing more accessible for inner-city children who do not own a pony.

You can watch the full documentary on BBC One in the West from 19:30 BST on Monday, 8 October, while the programme will also be available afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.


Source – BBC News

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