A North Yorkshire company secretary, who has never ridden in a horse race in her life, is making her debut as a jockey in what is billed as the biggest and oldest charity race day in the world.
Christine Swiers, from Norton-le-Clay near Ripon, is one of 12 amateur riders taking part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s annual race at York Racecourse on June 11. This year’s race will be the 46th year it has taken place.
“This is without doubt the biggest personal challenge of my life,” Mrs Swiers said. “I love horses and have been riding since childhood but I’ve never ridden in a race before, so this is a massive ask. Just to add to the pressure, I’m riding the Tim Easterby trained horse Relight My Fire which was ridden to victory in the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity Race last year by owner, breeder Jonathan Gill.
“The race is over one mile, one furlong and, as one of only 12 amateur riders in this unique race, I am undertaking a rigorous training regime leading up to my participation in what will be quite literally the ride of my life in front of a crowd of more than 28,000 people.”
Mrs Swiers, who is married to former leading amateur jockey Stephen Swiers, is preparing for the race by riding out three days a week with racehorse trainers Ann and George Duffield at their Sun Hill Farm Stables at Constable Burton, near Leyburn.
All the jockeys are getting expert riding tuition at Doncaster’s Northern Racing College, including a training day with former champion jockey Kevin Darley.
Each rider must raise at least £2,500 each for Macmillan. Mrs Swiers said: “Together with my fellow riders, we are hoping to smash last year’s charity race total of £110,000.”
The other riders are: Owen Dukes of Malton, Ruth Carr of Stillington, York, Julie Kelshaw of Harrogate, Marcia Sanderson of Bedale, Steve Charlton of Bishop Auckland, Rebecca Robinson of Brompton by Sawdon, Scarborough, Debra Boyes of Pickering, Susanne Martin of York, Siobhan Carey of Buckinghamshire, Keith Oakes of Appleby in Westmoreland, Cumbria, and Martina Mulhall of Leeds.