Have you always dreamed of riding on the hallowed turf of Cheltenham racecourse? Now is your chance.

Entries are now open for next year’s charity race at the Cheltenham Festival.

The St Patrick’s Derby will take place on Thursday 15 March. It is a 1m5f Flat race in aid of Cancer Research UK. Entries will close on 1 January 2012.

Twelve riders – six men and six women – will be selected.

Riders should be 16 or older and race-fit to take part. Licensed amateur jockeys and point-to-point riders are welcome to apply.

Each rider must raise £5,000 for Cancer Research UK and provide their own horse, which must have run at least twice either under Rules or in point-to-points.

Last year’s race was won by broadcast journalist Lorna Fowler on the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Plato.

Marketing and PR consultant Liz Ampairee also took part in the race last year.

To ride at the Cheltenham Festival was a once in a lifetime experience and the whole day was fantastically surreal,” she told H&H.

“From all those early mornings at Alan King’s Barbury Castle yard, the great little horse I rode, to walking the course with Stan Mellor, to weighing out next to so many legends of the turf, to being papped by cameras as if we were proper jockeys, to chatting to Sir Henry Cecil… And that was before we even got out onto the hallowed Cheltenham turf!

“It was an unforgettable day, for a great cause and I felt privileged to have been involved in it.”

Over the past two years, more than £400,000 has been raised for Cancer Research UK at The Festival and the charity race.

Cheltenham racecourse’s managing director, Edward Gillespie added: “Cheltenham has been delighted with the success of the charity race over the past two years. The riders that take part have been seriously competitive and the race has proved a popular addition to what is already a spectacular day of high-class jump racing.”

To take part contact Sarah Oliver, at the Amateur Jockeys Association, on 01886 884488 or e-mail sph.oliver@btinternet.com.