Equine superstars, including Big Star to parade at Cheltenham Racecourse
Thursday 13 April 2017
Four equine superstars and the Pertemps Champions Willberry Charity Race feature in addition to the Jump racing on Thursday, April 20, day two of The April Meeting, at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Racegoers will have the rare treat of seeing the quartet of equine superstars in parade after the 5.30pm race. The parade will take place in the paddock about 5.50pm.
The four horses who will parade are:
Chilli Morning became the first stallion to win the world's most prestigious eventing competition, the Badminton Horse Trials, under William Fox-Pitt in 2015. He was retired in January, 2017, to take up stud duties at West Kingston Stud in Wiltshire.
Sprinter Sacre was an outstanding chaser for Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson with a Timeform rating of 192p, bettered only by Arkle and Flyingbolt. Owned by Caroline Mould, he won his first 10 starts over fences including a scintillating 19-length victory in the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival. He returned from a series of setbacks to regain the Queen Mother Champion Chase crown in 2016 to tremendous acclaim. Sprinter Sacre was retired from racing in November, 2016 after being successful in 18 of his 24 races.
Valegro is a two-time dressage world champion, who was ridden by Charlotte Dujardin. The pair gained three Olympic gold medals, including back-to-back victories in the individual event at London (2012) and Rio (2016), plus the team event in 2012. Valegro was retired from competition in December 14, 2016, signing off with faultless performance at the London International Horse Show.
Big Star is a showjumper and was described by Nick Skelton CBE as "the best horse he has ever ridden”. Big Star and Skelton were part of the Olympic Gold medal-winning team at London 2012 and captured individual Gold at Rio in 2017. He is also a successful breeding stallion.
Thursday, April 20 also sees the first running of the Pertemps Champions Willberry Charity Flat Race, which will take place at 6.15pm.
The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony charity are delighted to announce that Pertemps will be the headline sponsor.
The race line-up includes double Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton, Olympic silver medallist Tina Cook, international event rider (who recently fought his own battle with cancer), Ben Hobday, 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 organisers hope to raise £100,000 to be split evenly between the two charities.
Pertemps are one of the UK’s largest recruiters, providing permanent, contract and temporary staffing solutions across all sectors and industries. They are also a keen supporter of Jump racing, sponsoring the longstanding Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series which culminates at The Festival in March every year.
Tim Watts, Lifetime President of Pertemps, said: “Pertemps are delighted to support two great causes and we recognise all the work that goes into supporting these charities and the wonderful outcomes they achieve.”
Bob Champion, on behalf of the two charities, said: “The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony charity welcome Pertemps on board for this really exciting charity Flat race.
“Pertemps are a great supporter of British racing and we couldn’t be more delighted that they are supporting both of our charities to help in the fight against cancer, something that is so important to us all.”
Further details can be found at www.championswillberry.org.uk
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, 27, of Qatar is Chairman of Qatar Racing, a passionate supporter of British Racing and an equestrian enthusiast who took part in the 2016 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 Three Day Event Championships under 21. 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 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.
Nick Skelton CBE, 59, is a double Olympic gold medallist taking individual Olympic gold in Rio on his amazing horse, Big Star. One of the most successful show jumpers ever, his career has spanned four decades, and his feats are even more remarkable considering he broke his neck in 2000, retiring but then making a successful comeback two years later. Nick's son, Dan, is a top Jump trainer and his younger son, Harry, a successful Jump jockey.
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.
Please go to www.championswillberry.org.uk to support the riders.
The April Meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse commences on Wednesday, April 19, with the first race at 2.05pm, while the racing action starts on Thursday, April 20 at the same time.