The John Smith’s People’s Race Charity Event

The jockeys are led into the starting gates, in front of them the track lies quietly waiting their arrival and below them are the gracious giants that will give their best effort to carry them home safely. The anticipation builds, whilst riders envision the course ahead. As the gates fly open, nothing else has time to enter their thoughts, it is just them and their horses in a dash to the finish line. Very few people get the chance to feel these emotions and many dream of the opportunity. The John Smith’s People’s Race is the very opportunity many hopefuls apply for, but only ten get to ride in the race.

John Smiths is the sponsor for the Grand National, which will be held on the 5th of April 2008. The John Smith’s People’s Race is not only about affording members of the public the chance to compete as professional jockeys, but is a wonderful incentive to generate funds for charity. Reaching the top ten however, is a grueling task. This year, of the hundreds of entries received, the committee members narrowed the field down to thirty-two riders to take part in assessment weekends.

The assessment weekends are held to evaluate a rider’s confidence, capabilities, medical condition and fitness levels. These will be held at the Doncaster’s Northern Riding College and the Newmarket’s British Racing School. Sixteen riders will then be chosen to return for a second assessment, before being allocated a professional trainer and undergoing the training stage. To ensure the safety of both the rider and of the horses, fitness levels are monitored constantly, and any rider unable to maintain their fitness level is asked to leave the program. Fourteen riders made it through to the final selection stage which was held on 16 March 2008, and had a judging panel that included Clare Balding (BBC Racing Presenter), Richard Perham (Jockey Instructor) and Malcolm Bygrave (Jockey Instructor). The final ten riders who were chosen to compete on Grand National Day are: Jane Belcher, Jamie Plummer, Lynda Evans, Clare Twemlow, Stewart Bellas, Gary Lynch, Sheila Dickson, Amanda Craven, Johnny Ferguson and Jaclyn Jamieson.

On the day of the John Smith’s People’s Race, the riders will be given the opportunity to walk the course and go through all the normal procedures followed by professional jockeys, before saddling up for the moment of a lifetime. The 10 riders who compete in the race, regardless of their position, will receive £5,000 for their charities of choice and the winner will be given £50,000 to donate to their chosen charity. The winner will also receive a trip for two to the 2009 World Cup in Dubai and a trophy. Riders who qualified for the training round but were not selected, receive £1,000 for each of their charities. The John Smith’s People’s Race is not only a fantastic opportunity for the chosen 10, but a chance to give back to the community.

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