Exeter Racecourse will be celebrating a truly unique event at the first day of its new season on Thursday 9th October when paralysed former jockey Sarah Gaisford rides a circuit of the racecourse.
Sarah will ride the full two mile circuit of the racecourse accompanied by three of her staunchest supporters, the racing legends John Francome MBE, former jockey to the Queen Mother Richard Pitman, and Exeter’s ambassador and leading jockey Nick Scholfield.
The service road inside the track, will be full of walkers who have registered to help Sarah smash her target of raising £20,000 for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund.
Sarah was riding Festival Flyer in a handicap hurdle race when they came crashing down. Her back was broken when a horse galloped over her leaving her without the use of her legs. She had ridden 22 point-to-point winners and 14 under Rules.
Since then, Sarah has slowly rebuilt her life from a wheelchair, with the help of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and to repay their enduring support, earlier this year she set herself a challenge to raise £20,000. She has already raised close to £10,000 for the charity.
Sarah said: “It’s been a very long journey since that day seven years ago but throughout my rehabilitation the Injured Jockeys’ Fund has supported me.
“I loved my time riding and I wouldn’t change anything, but you never think the bad stuff is going to happen to you. To actually ride on the racecourse at Exeter again will be incredible for me.
“Being on a horse gives me such a sense of independence. I always say they broke me and they are going to mend me. Exeter have been so generous by offering free tickets to everyone who does the walk and I can’t thank Elaine Prior of Liberty Trails enough either for helping me too.”
Exeter’s general manager Tim Darby said: “Sarah has proved an inspiration for so many people and the fact that she wants to ride at the course where her life changed so dramatically seven years ago is testament to her spirit and courage. We hope everyone gets behind this and joins in the sponsored walk for the IJF and we are only too pleased to offer everyone who registers and completes the walk a free ticket to come racing.”
Exeter is offering to give every registered walker free entry to the racecourse on 9th October if they donate at least £15 to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund. The walk starts at 12.15pm and walkers must be capable of completing two miles within an hour and a quarter.
The first of six races comes under starters’ orders at 2.20pm.
Seven easy steps to sign up for Sarah’s Ride at Exeter Racecourse
1. Visit http://libertytrails.co.uk/sponsored-walk-for-injured-jockey-fund/
2. Sign up on the right hand side of the page. One sign-up per person.
3. Confirm your entry – you will receive an email.
4. Then click on this link and donate at least £15 to https://www. justgiving.com/sarah-gaisford. Please ensure you include your name and a message stating it is to take part in the walk at Exeter on 9th October.
5. You will be sent your tickets and wristband via the post.
6. Assemble at the start point at 12 noon to commence your walk at 12.15pm.
7. Good luck!
Alternatively, you can also sign up by email.
1. Email Elaine@libertytrails.co.uk. saying you’d like to take part.
2. Receive a confirmation email.
3. Donate £15 to https://www. justgiving.com/sarah-gaisford. Please ensure you include your name and a message stating the donation is to take part in the walk at Exeter on 9th October.
4. You will be sent your tickets and wrist band via the post.
5. Assemble at the start point at 12noon to commence your walk at 12.15pm.
6. Good luck
PLEASE NOTE THE CLOSING DATE IS 5TH OCTOBER AND IT WILL BE ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS WITH A LIMIT ON NUMBERS
Follow Sarah @skippyfeet
Pictured: Top jockey Nick Scholfield; Richard Pitman, former TV presenter and jockey to the Queen Mother; former champion jockey John Francome, MBE. Sarah is riding Harvey.
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Snelgrove.