Camilla felt ‘huge pride’ after disadvantaged jockeys join her at Ascot
Published: 20/11/2021- 17:21
Updated: 14/02/2023- 11:55
The Duchess of Cornwall has described feeling “huge pride” in young jockeys from disadvantaged backgrounds after they joined her in the royal box at Ascot.
Several young horse riders watched the races with Camilla at the Berkshire venue on Saturday before being treated to a VIP tour of the facilities.
The youngsters, from Brixton in south-east London, had learned to ride at Ebony Horse Club, where the duchess, 74, is president.
Promising riders from the club, including O’Shane Marsh, 16 – who won a pony race at Ascot two years ago – Theo Protheroe, 15, and Jesse Raven, 15, joined Camilla in the royal box.
Ebony’s chairwoman Sue Collins and the Queen’s representative at Ascot, Sir Francis Brooke, watched with them, while Khadijah Mellah, who became the first British Muslim woman jockey to win a race in 2019, inspired the students.
Camilla later asked the riders to judge the best-dressed horse in the race, before inviting a larger group of students to help her present prizes to the winning jockey of the Ebony Horse Club Steeple Chase three-horse race, Bryony Frost.
During an interview with ITV Racing’s Oli Bell at the event, the duchess hailed the young riders as an inspiration.
Camilla, who wore a hazel-coloured fur-rimmed hat and long brown coat with black leather gloves for the occasion, said: “I get huge pride. It’s so wonderful.”
“Any of the children here today, I think they have had a fantastic day,” she added.
“I hope that there are going to be some budding jockeys in future.”
Mr Protheroe said the experience gave him a “different perspective” on the races.
He said: “It was really fun. It gave you a different perspective.
“Normally you’re down at ground level but you’re so high up and you can see everything.”
Ebony Horse Club, which currently has eight horses and 140 riders per week, aims to use the sport as a way to boost the life skills, wellbeing, and aspirations of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the south London borough of Lambeth.
Sir Francis, who is chairman of the Ascot Authority, has formed a Friends of Ebony Horse Club syndicate with a handful of other supporters, which has donated around £50,000 to the club.
One of three trainers working with the syndicate, Jim Boyle, said he wanted to attract people from different backgrounds to the sport.
He said: “We need to to be open to attracting people from the younger generation and from a variety of backgrounds.
“The sport of kings is quite an anachronistic name. Of course there is glitz and glamour still but it is now open to people from a wider background.”
Camilla attended the event less than 24 hours after returning from her tour of Jordan and Egypt with the Prince of Wales, where they celebrated the culture, heritage and achievements of the Middle East nations.