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Racing With Pride taking centre stage at Sandown for Saturday’s Tingle Creek meeting | Racing News

Saturday’s high-profile Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown will see Racing With Pride given a welcome platform to champion inclusion within the sport for
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

In celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Rainbow Laces campaign, a wide range of activities aimed at encouraging the LGBT+ community’s involvement in racing will be on show at the Esher track.

There will also be a race specifically sponsored with this initiative in mind; the Betfair Supports Racing With Pride Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

RWP committee member and British Horseracing Authority diversity and inclusion project manager Di Farrell-Thomas said: “There’s lots of activities going on there, which Great British Racing have led on setting up specifically for the Rainbow Laces campaign and celebrations.

“That campaign has been going now for 10 years and in racing, we want to mark that as well and keep up the progress towards LGBT+ inclusion.

“There’ll be plenty going on; in the fan zone, there will be the exerciser with Racing With Pride silks to wear, so people can come along and learn about the organisation.

Nicky Henderson could run both of his superstars in Saturday's Fighting Fifth at Sandown.
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Nicky Henderson could run both of his superstars in Saturday’s Fighting Fifth at Sandown

“From Racing to School, there will be some jockey masterclasses as well. Racing With Pride members have been invited along to enjoy the day, ask questions and talk about LGBT+ inclusion.

“We’ve been very lucky with Betfair allowing the sponsorship races to have rainbow-coloured numbers and also the BHA staff on course will be wearing our badge as well, in support of inclusion.

“So, there will be plenty of stuff going on – with branding across the course, plus merchandise and prizes and so on, with people able to get involved in competitions.”

The Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign began in 2013 and has been embraced by a number of sporting bodies, notably the Premier League, and Farrell-Thomas is determined to put racing at the forefront as well.

She added: “Other sports have done this for 10 years, particularly people see it in football, but I think it’s become recognisable across other sports as well. It’s pride, it’s inclusion, it’s celebrating diversity and who people are.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress, for sure. Initially, Sir David Letts, who is the chair of Racing With Pride, did some research to fully understand that picture of how inclusive racing is in terms of LGBT+.

“We’ve definitely made a lot of progress, many organisations certainly engage with the network, which helps it grow.

“We’ve held educational events as well, so people are willing to learn and actually having that experience that our members can now go and feel that confidence, with thanks to all the partners who have been so helpful in welcoming us. Having visible signs of support as well makes a huge difference.”

Jonbon and Nico de Boinville power away in the Shloer Chase
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Jonbon is also set to head to Sandown for Henderson

Farrell-Thomas has welcomed the support given to Racing With Pride from those working within the sport.

She said: “Jockeys have been wearing the Racing With Pride silks and we have had trainers speak explicitly about the wider support and diversity, so attitudes are definitely changing.

“People within the sport are more used to gaining different experiences and I do feel we have made progress within that space.”

Receiving the backing of Betfair this weekend and other organisations within the industry is another big plus – and racing is also feeling the benefit.

“We’re very grateful to them, it’s really supportive to have wider partners looking to link in and see the importance of diversity,” stated Farrell-Thomas.

“It also helps bring new people into racing, in terms of filling the workforce, people buying horses and just getting involved in the breeding of horses, which is an area we need to expand to help grow the sport of racing.

“Any help from wider partners is always grateful.

“There are people who come racing who have never been racing before, so just to have that confidence to come along and experience something that is different is fantastic.

“Some people who have attended have actually become owners on the back of that, so it’s that kind of experience that breeds the next stage of involvement in racing. That side of things is really important to highlight.”

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