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jockeysTHEY might not be getting the ‘leg up’ for the Grand National, but for a group of horse-loving people with learning disabilities and autism the thrill of a spin around the Aintree parade ring was the next best thing!

The group spent the morning at the iconic racecourse, getting to know the horses, learning the basics of riding, taking part in the Grand National history tour with Aintree’s historian Jane Clarke, as well as trying on a few famous silks in the jockeys room.

For Neil, who has learning disabilities, it was an unforgettable day.

“It was magnificent,” he said. “A bit different from what I’m used to! It was a good experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

aintreeThe group are part of learning disability charity Hft’s Aim High project in Bradford, which organises twice-weekly activities promoting health and wellbeing.

Their Aintree experience helped them towards gaining their specially-designed horse-riding badge.

Grant Rowley, Jockey Club NW communications manager, said: “The Aintree Community Programme is in its third year and inspires adults and children through the power of horseracing.

“Our riding for disabled sessions with great partners like Hft are just one of many activities we’re looking to expand.”

Liz Lege, trustee at Beechley stables, Liverpool, said: “Days like this are a real celebration of what the stables can do in partnership with other organisations for the riders with disabilities. Everyone has had a wonderful time and it is a day we can all be proud of.”

As part of Hft’s Aintree partnership, the charity’s mobile, purpose-built Smarthouse is situated within the newly launched Peter O’Sullevan Community Hub, which is the focal point of Aintree’s Community Programme.

Visitors can experience an interactive demonstration of the types of technology used by Hft to help the people they support live the best life possible.