Daring ‘jockeys’ tackle charity race at Aintree

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  • Riders including an eventer, field master and a top showing producer will be racing at Aintree next month (29 October).

    The riders will pilot borrowed horses for the charity race, which is part of the third annual Aintree Countryside Day, and will be collecting sponsorship money in aid of the Countryside Alliance Foundation charities – Casting for Recovery, Castaway, Fishing for Schools and Falconry for Schools.

    Among the daring “jockeys” taking on the challenge is leading showing producer Robert Walker.

    Robert has taken 44 Horse of the Year Show champion titles and has 14 horses already qualified for this year’s event. The former master and now field master of the Cheshire hunt, has ridden in point-to-points and is brother to flat jockey Simon Walker.

    Robert is riding out for Donald McCain and hopes to persuade him to let him ride one of his mounts in the race.

    Jockey Harry Bannister’s brother Archie will be joining the line-up.

    Archie is in his final year at Edinburgh University, studying history of economics and is a fan of racing. Harry is advising him on his fitness for the race and his father Nick, a joint master of the Pendle Forest and Craven Hunt, is securing a horse for him.

    Farrier Paul Conway is also in the running.

    The Holcombe field master has evented at three-star and is riding out for flat trainer Philip Kirby in preparation for the race. His only racing experience to date is a members’ race, on hunters rather than thoroughbreds, at a local point-to-point.

    Tim Coulston, joint-master and huntsman of the Bedale hunt, last rode competitively in Pony Club, but is working hard in the gym and on his bicycle to make the weight for the race.

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    Jockey agent Steven Croft is also participating. He spent four years as a work rider for trainer Jeremy Scott and recently returned home from the US where he worked for Irish flat trainer Brendan Walsh. Steven is riding out for George Margarson in the run-up to the race and hope to persuade George to loan him a ride for Aintree.

    The other riders include student and hunting enthusiast Camilla Easby; huntsman, farmer and former point-to-point jockey Ian McKie; former point-to-point rider and eventer Tocky McKie; journalist Camilla Swift, who rode to sixth place in 2016 and then third place this year in the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood; and insurance broker James Van Praagh, joint-master of the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent.

    Aintree Countryside Day is also the course’s Old Roan Chase Meeting so there will be a full card of races after the charity event, which will be the first race at around noon.

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