Eight riders will line-up to race at Aintree in aid of The Countryside Alliance Foundation (TCAF) on 29 October.

The charity race – where riders compete on borrowed horses – is part of the third annual Aintree Countryside Day, which is a great day out for all the family. It is also the course’s Old Roan Chase Meeting so there will be a full card of races after the charity event, which will be the first race at around noon.

There are 8 jockeys in this year’s Charity Race, a flat race of 1m 5f run under rules on the Mildmay course. The riders will be collecting sponsorship money in aid of The Countryside Alliance Foundation (TCAF) charities – Casting for Recovery, Fishing for Schools and Falconry for Schools.

The jockeys will undergo an assessment day at the Northern Jockey School on 12 October, that includes a stringent fitness test and also tiding out on the gallops under the eye of Tim Reed, a professional jockey coach.

The riders are:

Archie Bannister 

Archie has followed the Pendle Forest and Craven since he was a small child where his father Nick has been a Master since 1992. In his final year at Edinburgh studying History of Economics, Archie loves his racing and would really like to have a crack between the flags point-to-pointing, so it didn’t take a great deal of trouble to persuade him to stand in for his father who had originally intended to ride in the charity race. Part of the deal is that Nick is responsible for sourcing a suitable mount so we can expect Archie to be on board something pretty competitive.

Archie’s brother, professional jockey Harry has assured the rest of the family he will be supervising the fitness regime and Archie is shortly to start riding out for both Charlie Mann and Harry Whittington.

Click here to Sponsor Archie

Paul Conway 

Paul, a farrier by trade, has been hunting with the Holcombe since a small child and is currently field-master. A keen horse trials rider having evented to Advanced and 3 star level, Paul takes some following in the hunting field; in fact occasionally no one does as in the case of one wall, now permanently named after one of Paul’s hunters “Wacko’s Wall”.

Paul is due to start riding out for local Flat trainer Phillip Kirby and is hoping to persuade him to provide a live chance for him to ride at Aintree.

Paul is running regularly and conscientiously carrying out the exercises recommended by the Northern Racing School and weight will not be an issue.

Paul’s only racing experience to date has been a non-thoroughbred point-to-point race; an unofficial race which takes place at the end of the day’s racing for the genuine hunters.

His participation in the Aintree race is the result of pure chance when friend Sue Simmons received an invitation to take part and told Paul she “could think of nothing worse!”

Paul thought he would love to have a go and having attended the Countryside Day last year was keen to support the Countryside Alliance. Paul has also held a quite ambition to one day ride at Aintree as it was his mother’s family, the Molyneux family,  which donated the ground to the racecourse.

Click here to sponsor Paul

Tim Coulson

Tim is  a joint master and huntsman of the Bedale having previously been at the Lauderdale and prior to that the Belvoir, the Cheshire, the Vale of Aylesbury and the Middleton. Born and bred in the Cottesmore country, Tim has never race-ridden previously while his last competitive equine experience was Pony Club horse trials and tetrathlon.

Tim has yet to secure a mount for the charity race, taking a fairly laid back approach; so far his preparation is taking place in the gym and spending time cycling without a seat on his bicycle. He hopes this will help shed the pounds necessary to get somewhere near the 12 stone riding weight in time for 29 October.  When not hunting hounds, Tim enjoys salmon and trout fishing and the odd days shooting.

Asked what persuaded him to take part in the race, Tim explains he agreed while “under the influence”, and that the idea was considerably less appealing by the following day!
Click here to sponsor Tim

Camilla Easby

Camilla hunts regularly with the Bedale and West of Yore but is in her final year studying French at Bristol University which has given her the opportunity to visit several West Country packs. During her first year at Bristol she managed 45 days following 13 packs on 24 different horses.  Having just completed a year out in France she enjoyed three days following boar, buck and stag hounds.

“It’s very different on the continent, involving tremendous ceremony but is a lot of fun,” says Camilla. “My father, [Major Tim Easby – director of the MFHA] sometimes asks if I am studying French or hunting at Uni!”

Camilla competed in Pony Club teams at most disciplines, but she would now really like to have a spin point-to-pointing and is looking forward to an introduction to race riding in the charity race.

At the moment she is riding out four lots every day for Flat trainer Jedd O’Keeffe in preparation, as well as running with her whippet “Wafer” and using the race exerciser whenever possible. Weight will not be an issue for Camilla; in fact she is currently eating as many potatoes as possible to avoid carrying too much lead!

Asked why she was persuaded to take part she replied: “I wanted to do something to support this charity which is really important to me and thought it would be more fun than a marathon!”

Camilla has her eye on one of Jedd’s horses for the race but is yet to persuade him to allow her to ride it. She has secured generous sponsorship from Lycetts Insurers for the race and they are also providing branded kit. “I will have Lycetts logos everywhere that is legal,” laughs Camilla.

Click here to sponsor Camilla

Ian McKie

Part of the husband and wife team of participants and a former Master of Foxhounds, Ian (pictured with this wife Tockie) hunted hounds for 30 years. He was originally with the Bicester with Whaddon Chase before moving to the College Valley/North Northumberland in 2003.

More recently Ian’s rare-breed herd of Luing cattle has been consuming much of his time and like everything else he does he is producing top quality animals.

At 60, Ian is probably the senior participant both in years and experience, having been a highly successful point-to-point jockey, including claiming the National Championship in 1980 and ‘81 and riding a total of 112 winners between the flags.

Unlike his wife, whose mount will be owner-trained and ridden, Ian is currently scouting for some serious ammunition from a nearby National Hunt yard.

Having lost a couple of stone in the lead up to a shoulder replacement operation a year ago, Ian will have little difficulty making the weight. Recently cycling from Banbury to Goodwood over three days to go racing, Ian has been cycling every evening for some time and also spending time on the equine exerciser – he is leaving nothing to chance!

Tocky McKie

Born and bred in the Bicester with Whaddon Chase country, Tocky took the mastership for six seasons followed by a further spell of five years as a joint-master of the College Valley/North Northumberland. With wide equestrian experience, Tocky rode a respectable number of point-to-point winners and enjoyed eventing successfully before hunting took her full attention.

Tocky trains four of her own pointers and will be riding one of her own team – a recent purchase from Donald McCain’s yard – for the charity race. In addition to the pointers, Tocky is looking forward to introducing three homebred three-year-olds to the newly introduced PTP ‘bumper’ races during the 17/18 season.

While riding out is keeping her fitness levels pretty high, Tocky is attending keep fit classes three times a week, using the equine exerciser, as well as swimming and taking long walks exercising the dogs.

The Mckie household must be a cornucopia of fitness at the moment with both parents cheered on by top level eventer daughter Jessica who currently works for International rider Oliver Townend.

Camilla Swift

Since completing her MA in Investigative Journalism following graduating with an MA (hons) in Scandinavian Studies, fluent Norwegian speaker Camilla’s work has covered a broad range of topics including politics, travel, schools, country pursuits and of course polo and field sports.

After graduating she spent the summer training for the Mongol Derby, a 1,000 km horse race across the Mongolian Steppe. Billed as the “longest, toughest horse race in the world” and officially recognised by the Guinness World Records, she completed in eight days raising over £1,600 for Mercy Corps and The Rifles Regimental Trust.

In 2016 Camilla took part in Glorious Goodwood’s charity race, the Magnolia Cup which she enjoyed so much she took part again this year.

Camilla’s time away from journalism is spent on the polo field during the summer and the hunting field with the Surrey Union during the winter. She is keeping up her fitness for the charity race cycling and running and has been riding out at Roger Ingram’s yard.

Recognising the excellent work done by the Countryside Alliance promoting and protecting rural life, Camilla has been a member for the last 10 years and when the opportunity arose to take part in the Aintree race to support the organisation she had no hesitation in accepting the challenge.  Having finished 6th and 3rd in the Magnolia Cup Camilla is hoping she can find a suitable mount to give her a serious chance of victory on this occasion.

Click here to sponsor Camilla

Robert Walker

Formerly a joint-master of the Cheshire Foxhounds for seven years, where he is now field-master, Robert is better known as one of the country’s very best producers of show horses. With countless hunter, cob, riding horse and hack winners he has produced 44 Horse of the Year Show Champions and has already qualified 14 for this year’s pinnacle of the showing world at the NEC in Birmingham.

Born and brought up opposite the Holderness kennels, Robert has been hunting since he was a small boy.

Robert has always loved racing and rode in point-to-points some years ago; however, his brother – Flat professional jockey Simon Walker – was planning a career as a jockey and Robert claims he monopolised all the best rides.

Robert had watched a previous charity race at Cheltenham so when he was invited to ride in the Aintree Race he did not hesitate in accepting the challenge. Clearly spending most of his time in the saddle his fitness levels are pretty good, but as information has filtered through about the severity of the fitness test at the racing school for all the jockeys in a few weeks’ time, it has focused the mind and he is now cycling and jogging regularly.

Much of the showing season is spent on the road, but as the shows start to decrease over the next couple of weeks, Robert is hoping to ride out regularly at nearby Donald McCain’s yard. Donald trained last year’s winner of the charity race and Robert is hoping he can persuade him to provide another runner for this year’s race which will surely give him a favourite’s chance.

Click here to sponsor Robert

About the Race Day:

The Aintree Countryside Race Day will include fantastic shopping & trade stands, displays by falconers, the Quack Pack duck herding display team, the Lamb National, gun dogs and you can also try your hand at laser clays.

Organiser Sara Rutherford said: “Last year’s event was a fabulous day’s racing and tickets sold out for the lunch. Aintree has tremendous facilities and this is bound to be a great day out for racing and countryside enthusiasts alike. We are very grateful to the riders who will ride in our charity race to raise money for these great charities.”

General entry tickets are £22.50 in advance or £25 on the day (children under 17 go free with a paying adult), and special lunch tickets – which include entry, race card, access to the Sunloch hospitality suite and a two-course lunch with champagne reception, as well as a charity auction – are now on sale for £68.

Book lunch tickets