A jockey who rode in the Isle of Wight Grand National bareback and without a bit joked that it was “frustrating” to come second, but added he was beaten by a worthy winner.

Former National Hunt and Flat jockey Hadden Frost dressed in pink to complete the course on 25 March, in aid of the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, where seven-year-old Freddie Fletcher, who keeps his pony Tommy at Hadden’s friend Mark Smith’s yard, was recently treated.

“I’ve wanted to do it [bareback] for a long time but needed a good enough reason to take that risk of humiliation!” Hadden told H&H.

“Freddie was very ill with a serious infection on his lungs and swelling on the brain and was in intensive care, but he’s better now and he and his parents wanted to raise money for the hospital to thank them.

“Freddie also rode on Saturday; he was the youngest person to ride, in one of the pony races, and I thought: ‘now’s the time to have a crack’. I wanted to raise more awareness for Freddie’s JustGiving page, so it all fell into place.”

Hadden was riding Templar, a former racehorse on whom he has previously won the race.

“He was very successful; he knows how to jump and look after me,” Hadden said.

“I came second which was a bit frustrating, but got beaten by a Grade One-winning horse and a good rider [Offshore Account, ridden by Pandora Bailey].

“It was a good race: my horse who’s won at Cheltenham and another Grade One winner, going flat out; I should think we were hitting 30mph over those fences.”

Hadden, who is part of team chasing team Quit the Bit whose members are always bitless and wearing pink, has not ridden the race bareback before – although he has taken part in the Bury Farm showjumping bareback challenge, a dressage competition with no saddle or bit and an Irish bareback puissance, in which he cleared 1.65m to finish fourth.

“I grew up riding bareback,” Hadden said. “Mainly out of laziness; I did a lot of showjumping but the tack would stay in the lorry between shows.

“But my dad [Grand National-winning jockey Jimmy] was keen for us to ride bareback because it’s good for your riding. So me and my sister Bryony, who won the Foxhunter at Cheltenham this year, used to gallop about on the moors for hours.

“My theory is that you shouldn’t grip to stay on a horse so you shouldn’t need the saddle.”

Hadden’s lower back ached after the race, as it had to absorb Templar’s movement.

“But staying on was fine,” he said, adding that the decision to go bareback was last-minute and that he wanted any donations to be made to Freddie’s page.

“If he can raise his money, I don’t want it for my ego but it will do his confidence the world of good,” he said. “I want to thank the crowd too as we raised £200-300 in cash on the day.

“It was the first horse event my girlfriend had been to and she thought it was completely bonkers.”

The event’s honorary secretary Caroline Cooper said Hadden’s lack of a saddle came as a surprise.

“I just thought: ‘Oh, he’s gone off bareback’,” she told H&H.

“He’s a brilliant rider so I wasn’t worried and it was lovely to watch.

“He met every fence spot-on, the horse was jumping out of a rhythm and Hadden didn’t move or slip; it was quite phenomenal.”

Video by Mark Smith, picture by Isle of Wight County Press.