On Sunday, 25th October Wincanton will stage the first ever sidesaddle charity flat race on a British racecourse in celebration of the Somerset track’s two season association with the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust (SSIT) – held on the anniversary of The Charge of The Light Brigade.
The late October raceday is synonymous as a fundraising fixture, and this year’s event will make history with 11 lady jockeys elegantly dressed in the traditional sidesaddle attire of a bygone era, galloping one mile, two furlongs in a dash to the winning line. (See below for runners and rider details)
The Andy Stewart Charitable Foundation has generously sponsored the SSIT Sidesaddle Dash which is an adaptation of the Diana's of the Chase Cup (DOC) - a two mile cross country sidesaddle contest that was reinvented two-years-ago and is now an annual event held in Leicestershire. The DOC race was originally held in Gillingham, Dorset (last recorded in 1924) so it is apt that it returns to its Somerset roots.
The 11 lady jockeys taking part have a wealth of point-to-point, hunting and sidesaddle experience and include the successful point-to-point jockey Clare Gundry, sidesaddle devotee Philippa Holland and a number of female work riders. The ladies will race on appropriate thoroughbreds, largely ex racehorses and will be led down to the start by the legendary Big Bucks ridden by Lucy Tucker.
Huw Williams, Wincanton Racecourse’s General Manager, said: “Last season, Wincanton’s Chairman - Jo Hepburn – successfully created a Charity Committee from which we have formed a wonderful partnership with the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust.
“I love the originality of this inaugural Sidesaddle Dash – the uniqueness of the race and its strong rural association really reflects all things Wincanton, and we very much hope the Dash is the first of many. I am sure that the day will raise a huge amount for the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust, which is such a worthwhile cause in the region.”
Sally Moger, Charity Manager at the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust, said: “Our partnership with Wincanton Racecourse is a fantastic way for us to help more people with spinal cord injuries. All the sidesaddle riders are fundraising for the charity, and donations can also be made at our website www.ssit.org.uk or at our Virgin Money Giving page. Our much-needed funds are used to provide grants that help injured people buy specialist equipment to make a real difference in their daily living.”
In addition to the race, SSIT will host a sold-out luncheon for 450 guests with an auction and silent auction open to racegoers. Gates open at 11am on Sunday, 25th October with the Dash scheduled to take place before the first official race at 1:25pm.
Advance tickets start from £16 and are available online at www.wincantonracecourse.co.uk or by calling 0844 579 3014. Children aged 17 and under race free when accompanied by an adult.
Wincanton’s 2015 / 16 season starts on Friday, 16th October – Under Starter’s Orders.