Channel 4 racing presenter Alice Plunkett, trainer and 1988 Grand National winner Brendan Powell, international dressage riders Andrew Gould and Daniel Timpson and H&H news editor Abigail Butcher lined up last Thursday in a charity race for Spinal Research at Goodwood.
In a close finish, Alice riding the John Dunlop trained Balnagore and Brendan aboard Kerriemuir Lass owned by JP McManus, forged ahead in the final furlong to take first and second respectively. Abigail, aboard Hawkstar Express trained by James Boyle and owned by Inside Track Racing Club, finished third.
“I haven’t ridden in a race for years — it’s going to hurt tomorrow, but what a buzz,” said former point-to-point jockey Alice afterwards. “I was wearing Mick Fitzgerald’s boots and Rilly Goschen’s breeches on, so I had all the right kit!”
She added: “It was brilliant fun, my biggest fear was getting a leg-up and then making it to the post in one piece, but I managed. I was very lucky because I was riding a Ferrari in a go-cart race, thanks to the generosity of Mr Dunlop.”
Also taking part in the charity race, run over 1 mile 3 furlongs, was polo player Richard Buckfield and charity race veteran Leon Nurse.
Double bronze Olympic medallist Tina Cook was due to ride until her horse went lame the weekend before. Instead, the event rider started the race.
“It was a real honour to be asked to take part in the race — it’s the chance of a lifetime to race around Goodwood,” said Abi, who tried to gain an advantage by training solidly for two weeks beforehand, riding out for Epsom-based James Boyle and Newmarket trainer John Berry.
Some others, however, hadn’t done quite as much preparation.
“I had a quick canter at Jim Boyle’s and one ride on my horse, Morestead, beforehand,” said Andrew Gould, who was taking advice from Abi while walking the course on how to bridge his reins.
Third place from seven was a slight improvement on Abi’s last race, when she finished fifth of 11 at Plumpton on Easter Monday 2006.
“I just wish I hadn’t had my stirrups so short this time — I borrowed a jockey’s saddle and the leathers wouldn’t go any longer, so I completely ran out of steam in the last furlong and couldn’t push my horse on any more!”
She added: “It’s very kind of Jim Boyle and the owners of Hawkstar Express to let me have the ride.”
The Goodwood celebrity charity race raised about £25,000 for Spinal Research, Racing Welfare and local Sussex charity Boxgrove Priory.
Alice added: “Spinal Research is very much close to our hearts and a charity our industry should support.”
To make a donation, visit www.spinal-research.org