WHAT ON EARTH HAS POSSESSED ME TO DO THIS?
I'm forty four years old, I have been a massive fan of horse racing for over 25 years, but up until September 28th this year the only times I had ever sat on a horse was on a gentle tourist trek on a Caribbean holiday in 1997 and when a girlfriend let me sit on her horse for 20 minutes back in 1993.
However, after Coral had sponsored Rishi Persad in last season's St Patrick's Derby charity race at the Cheltenham Festival, I was urged on by a number of Coral colleagues to throw my hat into the ring for next year's race. Having prevaricated for several months and done absolutely nothing about it, I finally bit the bullet on 29th September and enlisted the support of a brilliant riding instructor, Michaela Tomlinson, and embarked on the most intense, life changing experience imaginable.
Over the last few weeks with the considerable help of Zoe Davison, Andy Irvine, and all the team at Shovelstrode Racing Stables my riding skills have developed, slowly but surely!
But then I became gripped by the fear that my hopes might be dashed if my application to ride in the race was unsuccessful. However to my eternal relief on 4th December I received the critical news that I'd been waiting for. The green light for my participation in the final field of twelve. And what a field of twelve it is. Most of my opponents are hugely experienced and talented riders, indeed one of them, Andrew Nicholson, has won an Olympic silver medal for team eventing. So I am without question the outsider and the underdog in this contest but that is of no consequence as in the contest I am!
Now, in addition to learning to race-ride in less than three months, I also need to lose a stone, whilst building up my strength and fitness. However most importantly, and this is where your help and support is most vital and will be most appreciated, I have set a target of raising over £10,000 for The Injured Jockeys Fund.
I would be eternally grateful if you could support me in this crazy but thrilling challenge by sponsoring me to raise funds for what is the most worthy and relevant cause imaginable. This experience has already completely changed my understanding and appreciation of the amazing skill and bravery of the men and women who ride in races every day in this country, and raising money for a charity that supports those who who suffer injury doing so is both an honour and a privilege.