Jockeys enter boxing ring at York Racecourse for charity

Danny Cook (right) will warm up for Cheltenham by fighting amateur rider Matt Brown tonight in aid of Racing Welfare.Danny Cook (right) will warm up for Cheltenham by fighting amateur rider Matt Brown tonight in aid of Racing Welfare.
Danny Cook (right) will warm up for Cheltenham by fighting amateur rider Matt Brown tonight in aid of Racing Welfare. | Ewan Cawood
JUMP jockey Danny Cook’s preparations for next week’s Cheltenham Festival are unorthodox – he is stepping into the boxing ring.

Cook is one of several riders who will take part in charity bouts at York Racecourse tonight to raise money for Racing Welfare.

Cook’s rides at Cheltenham are due to include Sue and Harvey Smith’s Midnight Shadow in the Grade One Marsh Novices’ Chase following the horse’s victory at the home of National Hunt racing on New Year’s Day.

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But he’s one of 24 competitors from the racing industry who have been refining their own fitness regimes ahead of this fight night.

Raceday presenter Adele Mulrennan and York Racecourse's  Maiti Stirling will fight tonight in aid of Racing Welfare.Raceday presenter Adele Mulrennan and York Racecourse's  Maiti Stirling will fight tonight in aid of Racing Welfare.
Raceday presenter Adele Mulrennan and York Racecourse's Maiti Stirling will fight tonight in aid of Racing Welfare. | Ewan Cawood

Cook is due to fight amateur rider Matt Brown who works for Malton trainer Brian Ellison.

Ironically Cook is due to partner the Ellison-trained Definitly Red in next month’s Grand National at Aintree.

“I’m doing it because it is such a good charity and we all want to help raise funds for Racing Welfare,” he said.

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“Anything to do with racing is great and Racing Welfare play a big part in helping people in any way that they can.

“I’ve always loved the fitness side. I’ve been doing boxing to help get even fitter and when this event was planned, it was too good an opportunity to miss.”

The black tie event, which has been billed as a battle between the rival racing centres of Malton and Middleham, will also see Flat riders Clifford Lee and Shane Gray fight each other – both are fierce rivals on the racecourse.

Group One winning Flat jockey Paul Mulrennan takes on Ryan Timby from John Quinn’s yard.

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And Mulrennan’s wife Adele, a raceday presenter at the county’s tracks, opens the evening against York Racecourse’s Maiti Stirling.

All combatants have been collecting sponsorship – and are continuing to do so – for Racing Welfare which provides dedicated, and bespoke support, to everyone who works in the sport.

This includes stud, stable and racecourse staff, alongside those working in associated professions, from their recruitment right through into retirement.

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire-based Brian Hughes says he is taking nothing for granted in the race to become champion jockey.

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Hughes currently leads defending champion Richard Johnson by 136-117 winners after another successful week, with both men going head-to-head at Ayr today following the abandonment of Sandown’s high-profile Imperial Cup card due to false ground.

Writing on his Vbet blog, the 34-year-old said: “Regarding the championship, I’m certainly not getting carried away just yet. There’s still plenty of the season left, and though I’m a good few winners clear, anything can happen. It’s just a case of keeping my head down and taking things day by day.”

Hughes has also picked up the ride on the David Pipe-trained mare Panic Attack in the Grade One Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. “She won a Listed race first time out on the bridle and she gets a lot of weight from the older horses, so I’m delighted to be riding her,” he added.

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