MP Matthew Hancock is in training for the world’s oldest continuously run horse race next month (7 July).

The minister for the cabinet office, who has overall responsibility for the policy and work of the department, is taking part in the Newmarket Town Plate, a 3m 6f Flat race for amateurs.

Mr Hancock, who was elected MP for the Newmarket area in 2010, has been riding out once a week and working on his fitness in preparation.

I can’t wait,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to the race, and I like the incentive to get fit.

“Most importantly, there are thousands of people employed by the racing industry in my constituency and there’s no better way to stay in touch than this.”

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Mr Hancock rode as a child, and his sister Emily Gilruth rode at Badminton this year on Topwood Beau, but he said: “She was always the talented one, I was just the younger brother who strung along.

“After I was elected, the British Racing School invited me to ride a racehorse to mark National Apprenticeship Week and I jumped at the chance.”

Mr Hancock was then invited to take part in the 2012 Blue Square Charity Cavalry Charge, which he won.

He said: “As it’s the 350th anniversary at racing at Newmarket, and the 350th anniversary of this race, they asked me if I’d be interested, and I was.

“I’ve had to lose a stone, and I’m not there yet. In my job, there are lots of lunches and dinners and it’s hard to be abstemious but I’m resisting temptation.”

Father of three Mr Hancock admits to having a “competitive streak”, but said completing the race is the important thing, along with raising money for St Nicholas Hospice, Bury St Edmonds.

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“My primary goal is to get round in one piece,” he said.

But the winning jockey will be given a box of Newmarket sausages.

“And at least I’d be able to eat them after the race,” Mr Hancock added.

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