Novice riders line up for the John Smith’s People’s Race

  • Ten novice riders will be having the ride of their lives on Saturday, 5 April, as they battle it out on the legendary turf of Aintree racecourse.

    Thousands of budding jockeys applied to take part in the 2008 John Smith’s People’s Race which will be held on Grand National day in front of thousands of racegoers.

    After challenging assessment weekends at the British Racing School in Newmarket and the Northern Racing College in Doncaster the final ten were selected.

    Among those is Johnny Ferguson (pictured) a shepherd from the Auch Estate in Bridge of Orchy, Scotland who will be swapping his sheep for a Throughbred called Pendragon — a 15.2hh five-year-old trained by Lucy Normile in Perthshire.

    Johnny said: “I’m really looking forward to Saturday. Pendragon is only a little horse but he is very quick over a mile.”

    The jockeys will be competing for £50,000 charity prize-money. Each of the ten riders are guaranteed a £5,000 donation from John Smith’s for the charity of their choice.

    The winner will also receive a five-star trip to Dubai for the 2009 Dubai World Cup.

    If Johnny wins he will be donating his prize money to the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH).

    Johnny added: “I chose the ILPH as I really admire the work they do.”

    Clare Twemlow from Newmarket and Jane Belcher from Bristol are currently the favourites to win the race.

    Other aspiring jockeys who will be racing are Jamie Plummer, Lynda Evans, Stewart Bellas, Gary Lynch, Sheila Dickson, Amanda Craven and Jaclyn Jamieson.

    More than 3,500 people applied to take place in last year’s inaugural race, which was won by Kevin Old, a 44-year-old pawnbroker from Bournemouth. His prize money was donated to the Injured Jockeys Fund.

    The 2007 race was full of drama with 28-year-old Jamie Robertson falling off as he passed the finish line breaking his wrist, while favourite Michael Sweeney was thrown from his horse at the start and was unable to complete the race.

    For more information: www.johnsmiths.co.uk

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