Novices step up to do their bit for charity

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NORTH Yorkshire teaching assistant Abigail Makin will fulfil a lifelong ambition today when she competes at York in a charity race that will be watched by tens of thousands of spectators.

The 25-year-old aspiring geography teacher is one of 12 novice riders lining up in a special race in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support – and the culmination of York’s annual charity raceday which has raised more than £5.5m since its inception in 1971.

A teaching assistant in Richmond, Abigail also rides out each day at the Scorton stables of Bill and Sharon Watt whose Jewelled Dagger was a recent winner at Chepstow.

Her opponents in today’s finale will include Kate Walton who was a successful trainer at Middleham – and who is now heavily involved in the running of Phil Kirby’s yard.

All the riders have set up fundraising pages on the JustGiving website.

There is added poignancy to today’s race following the sad death earlier this week of training icon Sir Henry Cecil from cancer – many of his most memorable victorieswere achieved at his beloved York.

“I have had many close friends and relatives that have suffered the traumatic effects of cancer and I have been witness to the incredible work Macmillan nurses do to help,” said Makin.

“With this in mind I thought it was high time I did something to offer support.”

She will be riding a six-year-old gelding called Fazza, supplied by Birkby trainer Edwin Tuer.

“I’ve been riding Fazza out most days to get used to him and although a little strong, I figure it won’t matter when I’ll be travelling at an average speed of 40mph,” she added.

Her main sponsor is Darlington-based Solo Thermal Imaging Ltd, whose cameras are used to detect ailments and injuries in horses.