Beverley prepares to pay tribute to Birch in special race

Beverley Racecourse will stage a race in memory of former jockey Mark Birch on Monday.
Beverley Racecourse will stage a race in memory of former jockey Mark Birch on Monday.
0
Have your say

TOP Flat jockey Mark Birch will be remembered when a race is staged in his memory at Beverley on Monday.

Birch, who died of lung cancer at the age of 67, enjoyed a 30-year association with Peter Easterby and twice won the Chester Cup aboard the legendary Sea Pigeon.

Beverley was one of Dad’s favourite tracks so it seemed fitting to have a race there before we head to York.

Jill Boak

He retired from race-riding in 1998, having ridden 1,339 winners, before becoming an invaluable assistant to Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan.

The Mark Birch Memorial Handicap over five furlongs will acknowledge his significant contribution towards racing in the North.

It was the idea of Birch’s daughter, Jill Boak, who will also take part in the ‘Ride of their Lives’ charity race at York on June 16 in honour of her late father.

She said: “It’s all been part of the grieving journey, and it’s lovely to have a race at Beverley in Dad’s memory.

“Beverley was one of Dad’s favourite tracks so it seemed fitting to have a race there before we head to York.

“Beverley also means a lot to Mum, who will be giving out the award for best-turned-out horse.

“When we were collecting at Pontefract for Macmillan Cancer Support it was amazing all the people who donated who knew Mark and remembered him when he was a jockey.

“We’ll also be collecting at the gates at Beverley before racing, so hopefully people can once again come out to support us.”

Jill will ride at York in the ‘Ride of their Lives’ charity race, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, as she attempts to raise £10 for every race her father won – a target of £13,390.

Jill, who lives in Norton, added: “As kids, we very lucky as Mum and Dad both worked in racing. But I left home when I was 18 and didn’t ride a horse again until I was in my 30s.

“I had to do something in tribute to Dad and when I came across the charity race, I knew it was thing I had to do.”

Meanwhile Aidan O’Brien has declared Gustav Klimt, Saxon Warrior and Murillo for tomorrow’s Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket – the first Classic of the 2018 season.

The 14 runners include Mark Johnston’s highly-regarded Elarqam and stablemate Cardsharp as the Middleham trainer looks to replicate the win of Mister Baileys in the corresponding race in 1994.