Proud Gloucestershire mum takes the trophy at Macmillan Charity Raceday

Watched by nearly 27,000 people, amateur rider Belinda Keighley raced to victory on Buckle Street, trained by her husband, Martin, and raised more than £25,000 for the charity

An amateur horse rider, Belinda Keighley closed a record breaking charity raceday by taking first prize in the Best Western Hotels and Macmillan Ride of their Lives. She was one of 10 amateur riders who today went head-to-head on York Racecourse, in front of a crowd of nearly 27,000 people.

Together, the riders – including a care worker, a swimming teacher and a vet – have so far raised over £132,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support to help people affected by cancer. They began training, and fundraising, six months ago aiming at today’s event. You can still add to this total by visiting their justgiving pages.

The 41 year-old from Luckley in Gloucestershire was joined on the winner’s podium by sons, Freddie, 8, and Harry,6, after seeing off a strong finish from Jo Ford aboard Arabian Oasis, with long time leader, Tanawar, holding on to give third place to Catriona Moon.

She said: “This is a dream come true, it’s absolutely amazing.  That’s probably me retired now, I think I’ll stop at the top – I’ll wait for my two boys to do it now.

“I’ve shed nearly three stone to ride today. I dedicate this race to my mum, Kathy, who we lost too young in 2010 after a brave 18 year battle with cancer and my Dad John, who was the most amazing carer but sadly died three months later.”

The raceday, which is the charity’s single biggest fundraising event, raised a record sum of just over £500,000. All money raised for Macmillan will help the charity continue to provide emotional, financial, medical and practical support to people affected by cancer. Other local cancer and racing charities will also benefit.

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Thank you to everyone who has supported Macmillan Charity Raceday and made it such a record-breaking success. Macmillan Cancer Support relies on donations to fund our services, which are there to help people living with cancer, so we’re very grateful.”

Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York, William Derby said, “for Macmillan Charity Raceday to set a new record after 47 years and having now raised over £7,650,000 is a wonderful tribute to the support of so many individuals and organisations.  Everyone associated with York Racecourse is so proud of the partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the funds this day generates for helping people suffering from cancer.  After a week in which we were voted as Best Racecourse in Britain to end it, blessed with glorious weather, top quality racing action and a wonderful atmosphere around the racecourse, as well as that record sum of over £500,000 makes for a memorable chapter in our 2017 season.”

Andrew Denton, Director of Communications at the sponsors, Best Western Hotels & Resorts -Great Britain, said: “The riders have achieved something extraordinary and inspirational by taking part in the Ride of their Lives this year. We are humbled by their stories and their successes over the last six months and as race sponsors we are proud to help raise important funds for people whose lives have been affected by cancer.”

The raceday also featured seven professional races alongside charity lunches, auctions, raffles and collections all helping raise money for Macmillan and other charitable causes.

The online auction drew nationwide attention due to a unique lot – a vintage Vox Soloist guitar signed by more than 40 music legends, including Paul Weller, Van Morrison, Tony Lommi and Johnny Marr. Donated by Keith Stubbs, 68, the Macmillan supporter collected autographs over 10 years in the aftermath of his own cancer diagnosis. The guitar sold today for £2,550.

More than 150 Macmillan volunteers took part in Raceday, collecting donations and selling more than 19,000 raffle tickets to further boost the grand total. Just by attending, racegoers played their part as a contribution comes from each and every gate receipt.

Macmillan Charity Raceday is a fundraising collaboration between York Racecourse and Macmillan Cancer Support. Founded by the late Reg Griffin, the event has been held at York, annually since 1971, now raising more than £7.6 million in total for Macmillan and other charitable causes.

Macmillan Charity Raceday will return on Saturday 16 June 2018, so put the date in your diary.

For further information, please contact:

 

 

 

David Williams, Regional Communications Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support

SPEED QUEEN THESME GOES FOR GOLD AT BEVERLEY

Thesme attempts to claim a significant prize in her career when she lines up in the big race at Beverley on Tuesday evening (June 20).

The five-year-old mare has been solely campaigned in Group races this season and is one of five declared runners for the £14,000 British Stallion Studs Weatherbys Hamilton EBF Conditions Stakes (7.00).

Thesme has some fine form in the book, most significantly when she finished fifth in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York last August.

She has, though, not won since August 2015, with North Yorkshire trainer Nigel Tinkler keen to set the record straight at Beverley.

The Malton-based handler said: “She’s been a little bit disappointing this season, but she has worked very well since her last run at Haydock.

“Tom Eaves has ridden her at home and he’s been very happy with her, so that’s good to hear.

“She’s well in at the weights for the Beverley race, so that’s also a positive.

“The track might be a little bit stiff for her, but, on the other hand, fast horses do win at Beverley so we are pretty hopeful she’ll run well.

“This looks a really good opportunity for her and it will be a nice prize to win.”

The hat-trick-seeking Judicial (Julie Camacho) and popular veteran Hoof It (Mick Easterby) have also been declared for the British Stallion Studs Weatherbys Hamilton EBF Conditions Stakes.

Michael Herrington’s Doc Sportello and the Kristin Stubbs-trained Soie D’Leau complete the line-up in what should be a really informative renewal of the valuable Beverley sprint.

Last season’s race was won by Line Of Reason, who broke Beverley’s five-furlong course record when he defeated Red Pike by a length and a quarter.

Beverley’s six-race card begins at 6pm, with the going at the East Yorkshire circuit reported as good to firm – with watering taking place to maintain conditions.

The forecast for 70s Racenight Featuring Bus Stop at Beverley – the first evening meeting on the Westwood this year – is for sunny spells, cloud and highs of 17C.

IMPROVING EKHTIYAAR TO GO IN SEARCH OF VALUABLE PRIZE AT YORK

PROGRESSIVE young sprinter Ekhtiyaar is all set to tackle the Catherine Kinloch Paver Memorial Macmillan Charity Handicap at York on Saturday.

The six figure, six-furlong prize is the feature contest on Britain’s biggest charity raceday.

With a prize fund of £100,000 it is one of the season’s most valuable contests for three-year-old sprinters and has been won in the past by the likes of Cadeaux Genereux, Sheikh Albadou and more recently, Twilight Son.

The Sheikh Hamdan-owned Ekhtiyaar has some way to go before he is mentioned in the same breath as that trio but he certainly looks a sprinter to follow.

A winner of his second start at Yarmouth last October, the son of Bated Breath was runner-up on his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster before taking a six-furlong handicap at Newmarket a month ago.

He overcame trouble in running that day to beat a field of improving sprinters by a head with many of Saturday’s potential rivals in behind. He was raised 5lb for that victory by the handicapper – an increase which his trainer, Roger Varian, is hopeful will not halt his progression.

The Newmarket-based trainer said: “The handicap programme for three-year-old sprinters is a lucrative one and this race is a standout being such a valuable contest. As such, the plan was always to come here with Ekhtiyaar following his victory at Newmarket and I think the course will suit him given he is a strong-travelling type.

“The horse has been in good form following his victory last month and he posted an impressive performance on that occasion, given he was forced to switch entering the Dip as a gap was closed by a horse hanging in front of him. It is not easy to regain momentum in rain-softened ground and the way he picked up inside the final furlong was quite taking, with the front three pulling a long way clear of the remainder.

“The overall time of the race was good and a 5lb rise for the win seems a very workable assessment of the form by the handicapper. The better ground won’t be a problem and I hope Ekhtiyaar holds very solid claims, for all a number of horses arrive here on steep upward curves and I expect the race to be as competitive as the prize fund suggests it ought to be.”

Another highlight on the card is the Best Western Hotels Ganton Stakes, a Listed contest over a mile. The boosted £50,000 prize could see some real old favourites, with the likes of Custom Cut, Kool Kompany, Gabrial and Mondialiste as well as 2yo Course Record holder Dutch Connection, all featuring in the initial entry.

Saturday’s card will also see ten people even getting the chance to ride around the famous Knavesmire in the nine-furlong charity race – the Best Western Hotels & Macmillan Ride of their lives. Each rider is required to raise at least £3,000 with the aim to beat last year’s combined total of £150,000- help them on their Justgiving  pages.

The day gets underway at 1:50pm with The Queen Mother’s Cup, a race for lady amateur riders which was won in 1988 by The Princess Royal.

Racing also takes place on the Knavesmire on Friday with the first of seven races taking place at 1:50.