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Stable job for kids.

Byline: By Mike Ritchie

HORSE racing is a high profile sport full of excitement and glamour.

Now youngsters in Scotland have the chance to get a job in this massive industry through courses offered by Oatridge College where plans for a pounds 3million national equestrian centre of excellence have been unveiled.

The jobs could range from stable lads and lasses to yard managers and assistant trainers to apprentice jockeys for the very best of the riders.

It is hoped the new centre at the West Lothian college will host major horse riding events, attract thousands of visitors and create almost 100 jobs.

College Principal David James said he believed opportunities for a wider range of potential students would open up, including youngsters from deprived inner-city areas.

He said:'Young people from our cities might not normally think of land-based studies, but by offering a sector subject like racing, we hope we will attract new blood into the industry.'

The college, a lead partner in the new Scottish Racing Academy, has received the backing from a string of leading industry bodies for a Scottish Equestrian Performance Centre but is still hoping for additional public sector and commercial sponsorship.

Oatridge has already established itself as one of Scotland's premier centres for equine studies and the new plans will see the construction of a competition standard indoor riding arena with seating for 600 spectators and a covered warm-up arena. Also included in the proposed development are all-weather exercise gallops, a range of cross country fences, more onsite stabling and additional parking. The performance centre is expected to create 90 new full-time jobs and safeguard another thousand in the industry. It is also hoped it will help prevent the drain of young Scots to other countries to study and work. Mr James hopes work will begin in the autumn. He said: 'The Scottish Equestrian Association, the umbrella organisation across Scotland for all equine sports, has identified a need for the kind of centre we are planning.

'We are already the largest provider of equine education in Scotland and we have a lot of the key facilities which are needed to support a national centre, so it is only right that we quickly became a partner, along with everyone else, in developing those strategies.'

Oatridge College, in addition to equine studies, provides education and training for a range of land-based sectors, including agriculture, horticulture, environmental management and conservation, landscaping and greenkeeping.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 11, 2004
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