Fund raising activities centred around The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse helped generate in excess of £250,000 for Cancer Research UK. Cheltenham Racecourse has been a huge supporter of the world’s leading cancer charity since the inception of an annual fund raising race for amateur jockeys in 2010 and has, over the past three years, helped raise in excess of £650,000 for the charity.
The main fund raising event at this year’s Festival was the St Patrick’s Derby, a one mile five furlong flat race for 12 amateur jockeys on Thursday, March 15th. The race, won by Olympic Three Day Event rider Tina Cook, raised approximately £200,000. Tina, the daughter of the late Josh Gifford, won on Pascha Bere, trained by her brother Nick Gifford, to win the race ahead of Worcester Royal Hospital nurse Lindsey Hunting on Wild Desert. Wendy Normile, who works for Coolmore Stud in Ireland, finished 3rd on Prince Of Fire.
Tina Cook, who hopes to be competing for Great Britain at the London Olympics added: “It’s all about Cheltenham today – the Olympics would be another dream. Huge amounts of money have been raised at The Festival for a really good cause and there’s been such a good team involved.”
Following the charity race, the fundraising efforts continued at a unique evening event entitled ‘The Cheltenham Chaser’. Guests at the event were welcomed by Racecourse Chairman Robert Waley-Cohen who, along with Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, highlighted the ground-breaking work done by Cancer Research UK. Guests were treated to a Gold Cup Day preview by Clare Balding and top jockeys AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh. Exclusive auction items including a riding lesson with AP McCoy & Zara Phillips and A Morning on the Gallops with Sir Henry Cecil were then auctioned by TV and Radio presenter Jonny Gould, raising £60,000. The final total was further boosted by the generosity of racegoers leaving the course after racing on Thursday 15th March, when donations of £12,000 were made to bucket collectors.
The day before racing at Cheltenham got underway a Festival golf day, organised by YourGolfTravel.com, raised £26,000 for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, part of Cancer Research UK. YourGolfTravel.com’s very own horse On Khee, trained by David Pipe and ridden by Gina Bryce from At The Races, took part in the St. Patrick’s Derby finishing fifth.
Frances Milner, Director of Supporter Led Fundraising at Cancer Research UK, commented: “We are indebted to the hard work of everyone at Cheltenham racecourse, the riders that took part in the St. Patricks Derby, the generous backing of their sponsors and everybody that so generously supported Cancer Research UK. The money raised through the charity flat race and supporting events is so important in allowing us to continue our work into beating cancer. I hope we may be able to look forward to continuing our partnership with Cheltenham Racecourse in the future.”
Cheltenham Racecourse’s MD, Edward Gillespie, said: “We are thrilled with the response to Cancer Research UK’s involvement with The Festival. The charity race raised an extraordinary amount of money and we are truly grateful for everyone’s generosity. There was a real buzz on course surrounding the race, followed by a wonderful evening event that raised essential funds for a very worthwhile charity. We continue to be humbled by the incredible generosity and support the public show to the charity and look forward to welcoming Race for Life to the course in July, another way in which we support the great work of Cancer Research UK.”