Newmarket: Suffolk MP wins charity horse race

WEEKS of training in the saddle and following a strict diet paid off for West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock, who finished comfortably ahead of the field in his first-ever horse race.

On Saturday afternoon, he battled against celebrity riders including actor Nathaniel Parker in the one-mile Blue Square Cavalry Charge, held as part of the Horsemen and Heroes charity day at Newmarket.

The event celebrates the link between the horse-racing industry and the Household Cavalry, and raises funds for the charities Racing Welfare and the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund.

Mr Hancock, 33, secured a notable win on Dick Doughtywylie, despite never having ridden in a race before. His mount burst to the front entering the final furlong and stayed there to secure a well-earned victory.

In preparation for the event, Mr Hancock learned the craft of race-riding at the British Racing School before fine-tuning on the gallops with Newmarket trainers Michael Bell and John Gosden.

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He also lost almost two stone in 10 weeks. After the race, he said: “In the end I over-delivered on my weight loss and was 4lb under weight, so I had a big drink of water and a banana before the race and that kept me going. I still had to carry 2lb of lead.”

He added: “There were two moments of high excitement in the race. The first came one furlong into it, when 10 of the riders all came alongside each other. I was clinking irons with the riders on either side of me and it felt like a real cavalry charge.

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“The other high excitement was, of course, as I passed the favourite with the finish line in sight.”

Newmarket director of racing, Michael Prosser, was full of praise for the novice rider’s race, saying: “It was not the performance you would expect to see from someone in their first ever race.”

Almost �100,000 was raised for the two designated charities.

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