The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony charity are delighted to announce that Sir Mark Todd will join the line-up for the Pertemps Champions Willberry Charity Race, to be run at Cheltenham, the home of Jump Racing on Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), Sir Mark has won two Olympic gold medals, four Badminton titles and five at Burghley. He is one of New Zealand's greatest sportsmen ever and in 2016 competed at his seventh Olympic games. He was knighted in 2013.
Bob Champion, on behalf of the two charities, said:
"The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony charity are absolutely delighted to have Sir Mark on board for the Pertemps Champions Willberry Charity Race and to help us raise money for our two charities. Sir Mark is a legend in equestrian sport and it is very fitting that he therefore rides in a race at Cheltenham, one of the world's greatest equine amphitheatres."
Sir Mark joins a fabulous line-up that includes Olympic silver medallist Tina Cook, international event rider (who recently fought his own battle with cancer) Ben Hobday, and TV presenter and accomplished equestrian, Alice Fox-Pitt. The rest of the field (listed below) is made up of eight members of the public selected from over 600 applicants. The race hopes to raise £100,000 to be split evenly between the two charities.
The race, to be run at 6.15pm on Thursday, April 20, day two of The April Meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse, is to be preceded by a parade of equine superstars made up of Valegro, three-time Olympic dressage gold medallist, Sprinter Sacre, the most charismatic chaser of recent times, Big Star, showjumping hero of the 2016 Rio Olympics and Chilli Morning, the only stallion to win the great Badminton Horse Trials.
Full line-up in alphabetical order:
Madeleine Bunbury, 21, is an artist based between Dorset and Mustique. She is a loyal supporter of Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony charity.
Tina Cook, 46, is a three-time Olympic medallist, winning individual and team bronze in 2008 and team silver in 2012. She has also won European and World gold medals and is one the of UK's most successful and consistent event riders. Daughter of National Hunt training legend Josh Gifford, trainer of the famous Aldaniti, Tina has been involved in the Bob Champion story all her life and is a Vice President of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.
Ali Dane, 31, runs her own eventing and dressage training yard in South Oxfordshire with the support of her partner, ex-Flat jockey Alan Daly.
Abigail Dean, 27, from Gloucestershire, is an event rider who previously worked for the late Sir Henry Cecil, who himself fought cancer so bravely.
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, 27, of Qatar is, through the family's company QIPCO and its subsidiary Qatar Racing, a major owner, breeder and investor in British racing. In 2015 Sheikh Fahad rode in his first charity race at Limerick and in 2016 he won the Newmarket Town Plate and competed in the Mongol Derby.
Alice Fox-Pitt, 44, is a journalist and TV presenter for ITV Racing. An accomplished horsewoman, she is notable as the only female to have ridden at both Badminton Horse Trials and over the Grand National course at Aintree. She also represented Great Britain at the European Young Rider Eventing Championships. Alice (Plunkett) is married to William Fox-Pitt, the most successful British eventer of all time. They have four children.
Ben Hobday, 28, is a British international event rider who won the under-21 national championships and, in 2008, won team gold and individual bronze medals at the Young Rider European Championships. A successful senior career was temporarily stalled in June, 2015 when Ben was diagnosed with cancer. He completed his chemotherapy treatment in September the same year and returned to the saddle shortly afterwards. In April 2016, he jumped clear around the Badminton cross country course with Hannah Francis's Willberry Wonder toy pony on his back.
Scott Lowther, 43, from Waterbeck in Scotland, is the director of a construction company. Mad keen on both racing and eventing, he describes himself as "not rich or famous" but passionate about the two causes this race will raise money for.
Catherine Mills, 37, from Amersham, works for a members' only lifestyle and management company and is a keen event rider in her spare time.
Ben Moore, 39, is a soldier from Melton Mowbray. Before he joined the Army, he worked in racing and wants to do this race for his daughter who loves ponies but is currently fighting cancer.
Jasean Spraggett, 24, from Leicestershire, is a show jumper and working hunter rider. Nicknamed 'Quevega' due to her love of all things Cheltenham, she has set herself an ambitious target of money she plans to raise for the Champions Willberry Charity Race.
Sir Mark Todd, 60, voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), has won two Olympic gold medals, four Badminton titles and five at Burghley. He is one of New Zealand's greatest sportsmen ever and in 2016 competed at his seventh Olympic games.
Please go to www.championswillberry.org.ukto support the riders.