Former champion jockey AP McCoy took four lucky children to Ascot for some race training ahead of this year’s Shetland Pony Grand National at Olympia.
Galloping up the home strait were Lucy Aspell, daughter of back-to-back Grand National winner Leighton Aspell, Daisy Harap, Lucas Murphy, whose father Timmy has ridden over 1,000 winners in the professional jump racing world, and Archie Gubb. AP and fellow former racing legend Bob Champion gave the youngsters some top tips for the races next week (17 to 23 December).
Competition will be fierce as this year’s line-up features some of the brightest young names in horse racing.
Olive Nicholls, daughter of 10-time British National Hunt champion trainer Paul Nicholls, will be competing, along with Alice Crowley, daughter of 2016 British Flat racing champion jockey Jim Crowley, in front of the roaring Olympia crowd.
“Alice has been really brave in all her races so far and has really pushed herself. Hopefully she can go out and win at Olympia, but the most important thing is that she’s enjoying herself,” said her father.
All proceeds from the race will go to the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.
Founded in 1983, the charity has raised £16m for cancer research. At last year’s Olympia the young jockeys managed to raise an impressive £42,500 for the charity.
On Friday, 21 December the race night at Olympia gets more grown-up with the addition of the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockey’s Fund.
This year competition is a “Battle of the Sexes” with AP McCoy captaining the boys’ team, and Bridget Andrews, who recorded her first Cheltenham Festival winner this year, the girls.
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H&H went along to watch double Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton put Frankie Dettori and Victoria Pendleton through their paces
On AP McCoy’s team are some of the top names in racing, including current champion jockey, Richard Johnson, who has partnered at least 100 winners, Jim Crowley, who rode over 100 winners of the National Hunt circuit before turning his hand to Flat racing, and three-time champion jockey Ryan Moore.
The other member of the boys’ team is jump jockey Harry Skelton, son of show jumping Olympic gold medallist, Nick Skelton.
“The Markell Champions Challenge is such a crowd pleasure and we all love it. I thought I would ‘retire’ after last year’s win but my kids had other ideas so I’ll be back to beat the girls and claim another win,” said AP McCoy.
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