Robert Waley-Cohen, Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, has lent his backing to the first ever Varsity Flat Race
between student riders from Cambridge and Oxford Universities on Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket on Friday, 17th October, by donating a trophy that has historic links to the rivalry between the two Universities.
The huge silver gilt cup was awarded to the winner of the New College, Oxford point-to-point between riders from Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and Waley-Cohen’s father-in-law, Lord Bearsted, won the last renewal of the race in 1939.
Lord Bearsted, then Dick Samuel, also won the race in 1935, 1936, 1937 and his brother, Peter, was successful in 1938. The brothers’ victories all came on different horses.
After hearing about the Varsity Race, Waley-Cohen and his wife, Felicity, were keen to support the initiative and have loaned the trophy on the agreement that the race will be run as the Bearsted Perpetual Challenge Trophy.
Five student riders from both Universities have been training hard ahead of the mile contest which will be run as the final race at 5.45pm on a stellar card for Dubai Future Champions Day, with three Group 1 races for juveniles and six Group races in total.
The riders will almost certainly receive strong support, with students gaining free admission to the day. The day also sees the Grand Finale Best Dressed Competition and an Après Racing after-party featuring popular Cambridge band Swagger.
Robert Waley-Cohen said: “Dick Bearsted would be delighted that this trophy will once again be competed for after a gap of 75 years. The race at Newmarket between Oxford and Cambridge is absolutely the appropriate race.”
Amy Starkey, Regional Director – East, Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We are hugely thankful to Robert Waley-Cohen for loaning this beautiful trophy and its history certainly adds gravitas to the first running of the Bearsted Perpetual Challenge Trophy.
“The Varsity Race is an exciting addition to Newmarket Racecourses’ best day’s racing of the year and we are sure that it will attract plenty of interest.”