Some of the newest additions to Newmarket's training ranks will take part in the 2021 Henry Cecil Commentator Challenge, sponsored by Dr Johnny Hon, when the popular competition returns to the Rowley Mile on Saturday 18th September.
Trainers Kevin Philippart de Foy, Harry Eustace, Ed Crisford, George Boughey, James Ferguson and Tom Clover will take on 2020 virtual Commentator Challenge winner Danny Archer in the competition, which was first staged in 2015.
Archer, a racing journalist and presenter, was judged the winner in a public vote when the Commentator Challenge was staged during lockdown last year. His prize was a place in the line-up for this year's event.
The challengers will each provide the live on-course commentaries for the seven races on Cesarewitch Trial Day, which marks the beginning of Newmarket's Gold Season and forms an integral part of the Henry Cecil Open Weekend (18 – 19 September 18th-19th). As well as facing the pressure of delivering an accurate narration, the challengers will be hoping to capture the coveted Julian Wilson Award for best commentary.
Kevin Philippart de Foy, who began training in November last year, is one who is very much up for the challenge. He said: “When I was younger I used to watch replays of big races in France like the Arc de Triomphe and I would learn the commentaries and every single horse and repeat it back, just for fun, so I am really looking forward to the competition.
“I've been practising the last two furlongs of a few races and trying to learn the names of a few horses and jockeys and commentate on the race. I haven't commentated on a proper race yet, but I will be well trained for it."
Philippart de Foy, a Belgian national who learned much of his trade in France, suggested things may be even more difficult for him than for his counterparts, but he is determined not to let that cause an issue. He said: "I have the disadvantage of not doing it in my first language, but we'll make it work! I am really looking forward to it, I am very excited. I think it's a great initiative and it will be a very fun afternoon. I am someone who is very competitive and I like the challenge, when I do something I want do it well, so we'll try to do our best."
Commenting on the importance of the Henry Cecil Open Weekend, he added: "It is a great opportunity to showcase the sport in Newmarket and show inside the racing yards. We are opening the yard, I am taking part in the Commentator Challenge and I will be taking part in the show jumping on Sunday afternoon as well, so we are trying to get involved as much as we can."
Perhaps less well prepared is Harry Eustace, who confessed to having not yet done any practice. He said: "I've not done anything like this before, for good reason, but I'm sure that's the point! I haven't thought that far ahead and I don't know how you would practice to be honest, but I'm sure Charlie (Fellowes) will give me some tips closer to the time.
"We're lucky in that at least Kevin is there and English is his second language, so that gives us a head start on him at least!"
Also noting the significance of the event, he added: "It's a great day to be involved in and one of the best days to attract fans of the sport and hopefully new fans, so anything we can do to encourage that and make the day better is a good thing surely, and I look forward to taking part."
The Commentator Challenge will be run in aid of the beneficiaries of the Henry Cecil Open Weekend, which are Racing Welfare, Newmarket Pony Academy, and the Yellow Brick Road Community Project. Donations can be made to the team or to the individual challengers via JustGiving at https://www.justgiving.com/team/commentatorchallenge21
Further information on the Henry Cecil Open Weekend can be found at https://www.thehenrycecilopenweekend.co.uk/