SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Aspiring steeplechase riders and trainers are invited to participate in the National Steeplechase Foundation's annual Young Riders Domestic Steeplechase Trip. The trip starts Saturday, July 21 and winds up at Saratoga Race Course on Thursday, July 26, the date for the $175,000, Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick Steeplechase.

The foundation reports the trip will be led by Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot and amateur rider Lia McGuirk. The trip is a five-day “overnight experience structured towards providing the participant with an in-depth experience of what steeplechase racing in the USA is all about.”

“The ideal candidate,” according to the foundation, “will have expressed interest in being involved with steeplechase racing in the future.”

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The agenda includes hands on visits to trainers' facilities in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, lectures and discussion sessions with trainers, jockeys, owners and stewards and attending the races here.

The criteria say the “applicant must be between 15 and 18 years old and have previous overnight trip experience (schools, Boy and Girl Scouts, etc.)” Applications are available on the National Steeplechase Foundation web site, www.nationalsteeplechase.com.

An essay “outlining the applicant's race and/or riding experience and experience with steeplechase racing as well as a statement of what he or she wants to accomplish if chosen as a participant for the trip” will also be required.

Furthermore, each applicant must have two letters of recommendation from professionals (who are not relatives) “who have a first-hand familiarity with the applicant's level of ability, work ethic and overall horsemanship.”

The entry box for applications closes July 8.

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