A team of amateur jockeys has battled sore knees, questionable map-reading and 900 miles of Irish roads to raise more than £10,000 for two charities.
Zac Baker, Hugh Nugent, Ed Henderson and Ed Bailey cycled between all 26 Irish racecourses in 11 days in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) and mental health charity Mind.
“It has been an amazing adventure,” Ed Henderson told H&H.
“We originally set out with a target of £2,000, then upped it to £5,000 because of the support we had, then it was £10,000 — and we’ve reached it.
“We chose to support the IJF because of the help it has given to our family and friends.”
Among these is Zac’s brother George Baker, who received help from the IJF following a serious fall in St Moritz in 2017.
Ed added they wanted to broaden the cause, so also chose to raise money for Mind in support of friends, family and all those who have gone through mental health issues, and in memory of trainer Richard Woollacott.
The quartet started at Wexford on 24 June and finished on 5 July at Waterford and Tramore, visiting racing yards and studs along the way.
“The people were so friendly on the second day of cycling we stopped at the Tattersall Derby sales and went around with some buckets, raising €700 (£622) — everyone was so generous and welcoming,” said Ed.
He added that highlights from the trip included the welcome they received from all their hosts and racecourses, in particular the hospitality from David Fitzmaurice of Listole racecourse.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of drama on the bikes, including fancy tractors, plenty of singing, gruellingly-long days in baking heat and the occasional sat-nav error.
“Zac fell off twice on the first day, once before we had even started — he was cycling across the track at Wexford racecourse, pedalled over some sand on the crossing and skidded off,” added Ed.
“But we only had three punctures during the whole trip, I got two of those in one go — there was a very smart looking tractor that went by, I took a hand off to wave at the tractor driver, hit a pot hole and punctured both my tyres.”
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Ed, a law student, admitted some of the team were more prepared than others for the mammoth challenge, with their longest day featuring a 170km slog from Down Royal to Sligo.
“Zac and Hugh do quite a lot of cycling, but myself and Ed Bailey hadn’t done a huge amount… Ed Bailey bought his bike about four days before we went, and by the second day both of us had doubled the total amount of cycling we had ever done,” he laughed.
“Speed-wise we were quite fast, averaging around 28/29km an hour, my legs were feeling it but it was our knees that were the most painful.
“We’re all quite tired and ready not to have to sit on a bike for six hours a day!”
In this week’s magazine, out on 5 July, don’t miss our bumper show guide issue, with complete show listings for 2018 plus features on keeping horses sound on hard ground, the best show venues in Britain and much more.
In this week’s H&H interview, we talk to international event rider Izzy Taylor and check out our new feature ‘Fix it’ — Laura Tomlinson on improving a horse’s self-carriage. Read reports from across the disciplines over the weekend, including dressage action from Sheepgate, showjumping from Royal Highland and more.