horse racing

The Greatwood Charity Race: Cheltenham – Saturday October 20th

NTF article written by Cathryn Fry.

You will have all heard of The Greatwood Charity who provide care and rehabilitation to former Racehorses along with running programmes for Children with special needs. The Greatwood Charity Race is taking place on Saturday October 20th at Cheltenham on the second day of the Showcase meeting. Greatwood needs to raise at least £480,000 a year to stay in business so events like this are vital to their survival.  For more information please visit:

Riding in the race is Hayley Wilson (@hayleywils88 on Twitter) who very kindly answered a few questions for us.

Please support Hayley for this fabulous cause by visiting 

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

 I’m 24 going on 84. I work as general dog’s body for parents, who train in North Yorkshire. I’ve ridden all my life, but probably rode better as an 8 year old! Where’s my violin…? 

Q. What horse are you riding & who for?

 Esme Rides A Gaine, my mother’s mare. She will be too slow for 1m5f but I’m grateful for a horse to ride, and a sensible one at that. Ideally, I’d like to ride another of Mum’s horses, Ursus, as he’d love the track and trip. And I’m hideously competitive! But he’s not a straightforward horse. So, if you’re reading this Mother, please make a young girls dream come true! 

Q. Have you ridden in a race prior to this?

I’ve ridden in loads of races, including multiple Gold Cup successes – I’m a pretty talented armchair jockey. But no, I haven’t risked embarrassing myself – yet! Cheltenham should be an easy introduction…

Q. It’s for a great cause, any personal reason for wanting to take part?

I know it’s obvious, but without the horses themselves, we would have no sport. So they absolutely deserve the chance of a life & career after racing. That’s where Greatwood comes in, and does a brilliant job. That paired with the work they do to help children with special educational needs, makes it a worthwhile charity to raise money for, in my eyes. On a more selfish note, of course I’m delighted to have the chance to ride around Cheltenham! 

Q. Who is your biggest danger?

Probably myself – 5 weeks isn’t long to get fit. I was a latecomer. But that’s not what you meant! I know absolutely nothing about the other riders, so they’re all a threat. Most likely, the best horse will win it, regardless of who is on it. I’m trying to convince myself it is the taking part that counts!

Q. What have you been doing in preparation for the big day?

I usually live on a diet of lucozade, crisps and chocolate. So I’ve knocked all that on the head. I’ve been pretty grumpy as a result. I’ve just been riding out, and mucking out too – it all helps! I’m trying to run a bit too but I’m definitely not a natural!

Fitness aside, I’ve been watching a lot of past Cheltenham races, and doing a bit of homework.

Q. What will it mean to ride in a race at Jumping’s HQ?

Oh wow, an awful lot. It’s just a dream for most of us isn’t it? Charity race or not, I never thought I’d be able to say I’m going for a spin around Cheltenham! Being there, I will also be thinking of a friend of mine who we lost a few months ago. He enjoyed the biggest day of his career at this years chelt festival, and I’m taking a lot of inspiration and encouragement from him. I can’t wait! 

Thank you to Hayley for this interview, we wish her lots of luck for October 20th and we’ll be cheering for her! To everyone reading this: dig deep in your pockets!  No donation is too small, every penny counts. Thank you for your support.

@cathrynfry on Twitter

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