Racing Welfare raises 100k in Apocalyptical heat
What a week it’s already been! If you live in the UK then hello! I hope you are all ok and survived, what the media would have had you believe was, the apocalypse. Nothing around my area melted, caught fire or died. Which was good.
HEADLINE PIC: ICE-CREAM IS A CURE FOR HEAT AND SORE BONES: Sir AP McCoy and Gemma Waterhouse were happy to test the theory after their testing cycling journey.
I have given all three of my dogs trust issues, every time I call them to the garden they think they are going to get ice-cold water sprayed on them. Other than that, we kept the horses in for the day, I walked about in my underwear and Jeremy (Mahot, my partner) nipped off late afternoon for ice cream.
If you don’t live in the UK, then I hope you enjoyed the weather where you are. Which was probably much hotter than our poxy 38 degrees.
Joking aside, I was happy to see all racing was cancelled for two days. A sensible decision and one all our horses were happy about.
I keep promising a ranty article and I do have one lined up. The problem is so much good stuff keeps happening and I feel compelled to write about that instead.
This weekend I had overcommitted. I was in Worcestershire working for British Racing Motors at the Classic Nostalgia weekend at Shelsley Walsh. It was the 60th anniversary of British Racing Motors winning both the F1 Constructors’ World Championship and the Drivers’ World Championship with Graham Hill.
I was also in Cheltenham for the Great Racing Welfare 24-Hour Cycle. Supporting Jeremy who, after already riding over 300 miles on his bike that week, decided to saddle up and support a charity that has really helped so many racing staff over the years.
Originally I planned to drive between the two events and stay in a hotel just outside Cheltenham. A quick search offered me up a Holiday Inn in the bum end of Gloucester for £250, so I decided to stay on-site at Cheltenham to support the event.
I would like to make it clear how that looked. I spent the night in the Vestry Bar at the racecourse, sleeping on a reclining garden chair, with just about every name in UK racing mooching around me as I took cat naps, or sleeping on the floor/chairs/in dark corners. It was a remarkable atmosphere.
So, a very busy, but brilliant weekend.
The challenge raised more than £100,000 for Racing Welfare, the racing industry’s human welfare charity. There were 81 cyclists who split into 20 teams to ride 30km loops from Cheltenham racecourse, with at least two riding from each team at any one time. The course was hard, which seemed a little unfair given most of the riders were new to cycling!
I wasn’t there for the midday start. I arrived around 6 pm with my picnic hamper filled with white wine and various meats. Jeremy was out at this point however I got chatting with his teammates. It wasn’t long before AP McCoy walked past. I say a walk, it was more of a hobble. It was quite obvious from early on Sir AP isn’t a fan of two wheels.
It was clear from talking to everyone that the work Racing Welfare do is incredibly important and valued by the racing staff. Almost everyone I spoke to had been helped at one point or another in their career. What was also wonderful was to see the support from those at the top of the sport. Richard Johnson, Oisin Murphy, Tom Messenger, Harry Skelton and others all gave up their time to support the guys that work incredibly hard to keep the wheels of the racing industry turning.
One highlight for me included opening an eye at around 4 am to see a very tired Oisin Murphy walk into the vestry bar with his bib shorts inside out. Chatting to Oisin was a delight. He is a very humble chap and showed no ego at all. It was an interesting place to see him given all the controversy around him. Away from the headlines, I saw a gentle guy who seems quite lonely. He is incredibly polite and has a really calm and kind manner about him.
Sir AP McCoy walked passed me at around 5 am and Jeremy shouted “Are you enjoying it AP?” The reply was short and swift “No. It’s the worst thing I’ve ridden in my life”!
The best moment was watching Richard Johnson kneeling on the floor in his pants packing away his kit. As he did this he was saying ‘This is for eBay, this is for eBay’ so I asked him if there was any part of the cycling he enjoyed at all.
So if anyone is looking for a cheap bike at the moment it may be worth getting in touch with the four-time champion jockey.
Despite clearly not enjoying the change in saddle, and finding the event incredibly hard, every single competitor completed the challenge. Richard Johnson’s team actually completed the most laps of the event!
I felt really lucky to be a part of the weekend. It was an honour to spend time amongst such talent. A truly inspiring bunch of people all focussed on putting themselves out of their comfort zones to help the welfare of others.
Jeremy clocked up quite an incredible week of cycling by the time he crossed the line. In seven days he rode 574 miles and 34,000 feet of elevation. Proving my theory that all Jockeys are mad.
Back in the yard, our horses returned on mass yesterday after being given a lovely eight-week week summer break. It’s wonderful to have them all back in as at one point we were down to just 4 horses! All of them look in great condition after their rest so I am hoping this is a great sign for the months ahead. – IRC.
OISIN: Are bicycles tougher than horses?; HARRY SKELTON: Heat relief in a horse water trough!; TIRED, PROUD: Charlie Longsdon Racing Team members Brittany Teague, Amber Cartridge, Jeremy Mahot and Will Biggart (left); Rhys Flint and Harry Skelton pedaling (right).