The Oxford v Cambridge boat race has been a staple of the sporting calendar since 1829, but next month teams from the rival universities will go head-to-head in a horse race at Newmarket.

The 8f Flat race on 17 October will feature 10 riders.

Seven riders from Cambridge and seven from Oxford are currently training at the British Racing School in Newmarket and at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Oaksey House in Lambourn to prepare them for the test. The final five from each university will be announced next month.

The idea came from student Harry Beckett, who hopes it will become an annual event.

“I’ve spent two years trying to get this race off the ground so I’m delighted to see it come to fruition,” he said. “I hope this is the start of a real connection between racecourses and students.”

Riders come from the universities’ riding and polo clubs, which meet annually at the varsity polo and combined training matches.

They have varied backgrounds including riding club, Pony Club, showjumping, hunting and eventing.

“It’s a brilliant addition to the existing varsity sporting competitions and one that hopefully will be part of history for years to come,” said Oli Lawrence, captain of the Cambridge team.

Oxford’s Lizzy Hamilton added; “Rivalry between the universities goes back so many centuries and we cannot wait to compete against Cambridge on the racecourse.”

This news story was first published in H&H magazine on 18 September 2014