West Suffolk's Member of Parliament Matthew Hancock secured a notable win on home soil when he rode Dick Doughtywylie to victory in the Blue Square Cavalry Charge at Newmarket Racecourses on 18th August.

Hancock, 33, had never ridden in a race before but showed a real horseman's flair at the July Course as he triumphed in the one-mile charity race, staged to raise funds for both Racing Welfare and The Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund.

His mount, a 3/1 shot trained by John Gosden, burst to the front entering the final furlong and stayed on strongly for a thrilling victory.

It was another 'first' for the Conservative MP, who also broke the world record for the most northerly game of cricket ever played – on the Arctic ice cap.

Hancock prepared hard for his racecourse debut, learning the craft of race-riding at the British Racing School before fine-tuning on the gallops under the shrewd eyes of Newmarket trainers Michael Bell and John Gosden.

He said: "Three months ago I needed to lose two stone, get fit and learn how to handle a racehorse. I've had a huge amount of help, most of all from the stable staff of the yards that I've ridden out for – they were brilliant.

"In the end I over-delivered on my weight loss and was 4lb underweight, so I had a big drink of water and banana before the race and that kept me going. I still had to carry 2lb of lead.

"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.

"The other high excitement was, of course, as I passed the favourite with the finish line in sight. I looked up and I could see the crowds on either side and the two rails stretching out to the finish line with just green grass in front.

"Then I started to worry that someone would shoot past me, so I just pushed with every ounce of strength that I had left. I'd worked very hard on getting fit and I needed it all."

Newmarket Racecourses' director of racing Michael Prosser was full of praise for Hancock's prowess in the saddle.

He said: "I was seriously impressed. With half a furlong to go he didn’t flap, he just continued to drive with hands and heels.

"His riding showed he was fit and it was not the performance you would expect to see from someone in their first ever race."

The Blue Square Cavalry Charge was the feature on Saturday's Horsemen and Heroes Day with almost £100,000 raised for the two designated charities.

The race rounded off a memorable three-day meeting at the home of horseracing with top pop performer Jessie J having played to a sell-out crowd less than 24 hours earlier.

She thrilled a packed house of 22,000, bringing the curtain down the 2012 Adnams Newmarket Nights series.

Newmarket Racecourses managing director Amy Starkey said: "We have enjoyed a brilliant meeting that has showcased Newmarket at its very best.

"There has been great racing, a great entertainment act in Jessie J and great stories – not least Matt Hancock's memorable win in the Blue Square Cavalry Charge. And the sun has shone on all three days, heightening the fantastic atmosphere."

 

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