Retired jockey Ryan Mania made a successful return to a racecourse on Sunday (23 October) when claiming victory in the charity race at Aintree.
The former Grand National winner teamed up with trainer Donald McCain — who along with his late father Ginger also has a great record at the Liverpool course — to land the 1m5f flat race on Lexi’s Boy.
“It was an incredible feeling to be back here and it brought back so many great memories,” exclaimed Ryan after his victory. “I’m just so grateful to both Donald McCain and Lexi’s Boy’s owner Tim Leslie for giving me the ride.”
Now joint-master and huntsman of the Berwickshire Hunt, Ryan lined up against eight other amateur jockeys — some race-riding for the first time — in the Countryside Alliance Charity Race.
Bloodstock agent David Redvers, joint-master of the Ledbury, claimed second place on board Chapter Seven, just easing out Molly Dingwall, who finished strongly to take third on the Gordon Elliott-trained Steady Major.
A number of the jockeys, including both Mania and Redvers, had worked incredibly hard to make the 12-stone weight.
“I’ve lost over a stone and a half since agreeing to take part,” explained Mania. “Although I miss the competitive — and winning — side of racing, the dieting and travelling for this one race reminded me just how difficult it was so I won’t be reapplying for my license.”
Molly Dingwall, who works for Aintree and won her first ever charity race back in May, was disappointed not to quite snatch second from Redvers: “He finished so strongly and I thought I had just done enough to catch up on the line.”
“Despite all the hard work, early mornings and aching muscles, it’s been well worth it after such a brilliant day — I can not thank my sponsors and supporters enough as well as the connections of my horse including Gordon Elliott and the Racing Club who provided me with my Irish raider.”
In addition to the race, a fundraising lunch and auction were held after the race where the jockeys returned to a heroes’ welcome.
“Thank you to Aintree for hosting the race and for all the support from those at the Countryside Alliance,” said eventer Tessa Dollar who was enjoying her first taste of race-riding. “We — the jockeys — provided the entertainment but the generous winning bidders in the auction really made it a very successful day.”
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Polly Portwin, H&H’s hunting editor, finisihed fifth riding Ferdy, a seven-year-old trained by local trainer Paul Green. “The whole day was incredible — we were made to feel like complete professionals and it was fantastic to be given the opportunity to ride around this course,” she said.
“Thank you to everybody who made it possible — every one of us that lined up at the start had been given a huge amount of help, advice and support from people involved in racing up and down the country, ensuring we were all well mounted and kitted out correctly with suitable horses and a little extra race-riding knowledge which helped us all to get home safely.”
The other jockeys taking part included joint-master and huntsman Richard Tyacke (Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s), Oliver Dale MFH (Ludlow) and Charles Clark MFH from the Holderness, as well as David O’Brien, the 2016 point-to-point season leading veteran and novice rider in the North West who hunts with the Cheshire.