“I have always loved horses so I’m absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to ride in the Macmillan Charity Race.
“My husband and I breed thoroughbreds and my daughter works in horse racing so horses really are our lives. I’ve always wanted a race ride so ever since I heard about the Macmillan Charity Race I’ve wanted to ride in it.
“Although I’ve always loved horses, I didn’t actually start riding until I passed my driving test at the age of 25. I bought a cob and when my husband and I bought a bit of land and built a house, we had room to start breeding race horses.
“Our most successful horse to date has been Gorgeous Goblin who won four times: twice at Lingfield (including a blue square qualifier) and twice at Southwell. She was also placed on numerous occasions in 2012. She is now our first home bred broodmare with a very nice foal by captain Gerard.
“My daughter who works with horses studied at Northern Racing College in 2009 and has worked in racing since.
“It was at the Northern Racing College that I met Dawn Goodfellow, the chief executive of the college, and David Griffiths (who was an instructor at the college and has since taken out his own training licence and has been training our horses since 2010). I have met Dawn on many occasions and had often told her that I would love to have a go at race riding. I took her up on her offer to do just this in 2014 and it was during that meeting that she told me about the Macmillan charity race at York.
“I lost my sister to ovarian cancer 15 years ago. She was 33 at the time. My nan also had breast cancer three times. She recovered twice but we lost her during its third occurrence. During her illness Macmillan nurses came in to look after her. They were such a huge help to my mum and dad who were caring for my nan that I’ve never forgotten what they did for the family.
“Cancer is obviously a cause very close to our hearts and my dad works as a driver locally, taking people with cancer to hospital appointments, so the Macmillan charity race offered me a chance to do my bit to give back to Macmillan.
“I’ve pledged to raise £5,000 for Macmillan with the charity race and am doing well with over £2,500 raised so far. I have a few other sponsors in the pipelines – I think they’re waiting until I complete the race to make their donations.
“To kick off my fundraising I held an evening event that raised about £900. My son’s girlfriend, Georgia, helped out by finding a fabulous act for the entertainment. We also had lots of support from local businesses with the venue waiving the venue fee and lots of local people donating raffle prizes. It was great to see the community come together, with over 90 people attending the event in total.
“I have been riding all the time in preparation for the race, around six days per week. I have been doing a bit of hacking and some show jumping as well as cross country at local level.
“I would say I’m an ‘OK’ rider – I’m not the world’s best but I absolutely love it and do it because it’s something I feel so passionate about.
“York is a really iconic course for me and I couldn’t think of anywhere better to be taking part in this race. My mum and dad live near the race course. As a child it was my playground. I went to school on the other side of the racecourse and we used to do cross country there so I feel I’ve really grown up with it.
“My husband, Shaun, and I got married at York registry office in August 1994. After the reception, our plan was to go to York races Ebor meeting. We went with a few relatives and friends and had a fantastic day, even getting on TV! This means that York is a very special place for us so it seems poignant to be riding there just ahead of our 21st wedding anniversary.
“The other thing that makes this so special for me is that I suffer from lupus. I was diagnosed when I was about 20 and I have been quite ill with it in the past. Luckily I have been in remission for about 12 years now but living with this condition means it is a huge achievement to be fit and active enough to continue riding.
“I feel that riding and staying active has helped me to stay so well, despite my condition. Having horses means that no matter how bad I feel, I have to keep going for them. They will need feeding and mucking out, however I feel, so they give me a reason to keep going. On bad days when my arthritis flairs up and I struggle to even hold a knife and fork or climb the stairs, looking after the horses gives me something to aim for.
“I’m really looking forward to race day. To ride in the Macmillan Charity Race with my family watching will be a dream come true for me.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and donated money towards my fundraising effort. My fundraising page is: https://www.justgiving.com/Leanne-Humphries.