Eight-year-old racing fan to complete running challenge with help from well-known trainers

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  • A young racing fan raising money for charity aims to complete her fundraising challenge next weekend with a little help from some well-known trainers.

    Eight-year-old Freja Thackray from North Yorkshire is raising money for Racing Welfare by running 20 lots of 2,021 metres in 2021.

    Freja’s mum Mary, a racehorse owner, told H&H her daughter has always been around racing and has a love of horses.

    “She was fortunate to go to Cheltenham last year, she just loves all of it,” said Mary.

    “She likes the Flat because it’s quicker and more exciting but she also likes National Hunt because you can get those really unusual David and Goliath kind of wins; she likes the victory in adversity stories.”

    Freja was keen to raise money for the charity, having met Racing Welfare chief executive Dawn Goodfellow at Newcastle racecourse last year.

    “Freja was chatting away to Dawn about what the charity does and she came away and said ‘We can do something for that, Mummy’, and that’s what we did,” said Mary.

    “She’s been around racing her entire life and known jockeys who have had to retire through injury, or had to change career due to injuries on the gallops, and she’s very aware of the help Racing Welfare gives.”

    Freja, who has been running at local racecourses and yards, will run her final lots next weekend at the yards of trainers Charlie Longsdon, Martin and Belinda Keighley, and Fergal O’Brien.

    “We’ve had some really kind offers from trainers and a lot of support from the racing community,” said Mary. “Freja is beyond excited.”

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    The original fundraising target was £500 but to date Freja has raised almost £4,700, through her JustGiving page and other donations.

    “She would have been thrilled with £500 but to raise this much is unbelievable,” said Mary. “She knows it will help a lot of people but she says ‘we’ve got more to do and we can help more people’. She is blown away by the support. The aim now is to get to £5,000 if we can – 10 times the target would be mind-blowing.

    “Charities need help now more than ever because they haven’t been able to fundraise in the normal ways they would, but equally the people you’re asking to donate are facing tough times too, so people have been incredibly kind and generous with their support.”

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