This year's Countryside Race Day at Cheltenham will feature some of the UK's top equestrians and help raise money for the Tokyo Olympics.
Cheltenham Countryside Race Day, is always a highlight of the sporting year. It marks the start of the famous course’s November Meeting and showcases the close connections of country sports and the hunting field with National Hunt Racing. But this year’s event on 15 November will be extra special as some of the UK’s top equestrians will be joining in the fun.
The depth and breadth of horse sport in the UK is what makes our teams so successful. British riders excel in every arena and every four years, in the run up to the Olympic Games, the worlds of hunting, racing, dressage, eventing, para-equestrianism and show jumping elide at the Cheltenham Countryside Race Day.
Top riders will boost the already busy racing card at the iconic track with parades and displays and the proceeds of this special day shall be split between the Countryside Alliance and Equestrian Team GBR Tokyo2020, to help with expenses in the run up to the Olympic Games.
The Cheltenham Countryside Race Day ahead of the Rio Olympics (13 November 2015), was a fantastic success, raising £59,000 for the British Olympic and Paralympic teams. This year we would like to raise even more, so every penny raised at Cheltenham will really count.
Heading the fundraising team for Tokyo is former chairman of British Dressage and president of the British Horse Society Desi Dillingham, who with Capt Mark Phillips and Tim Holderness-Roddam is hoping to raise £250,000 for the team.
“We’ve come out of retirement to raise the money to get our team to Tokyo and are going for it, all guns blazing,” says Desi. “It’s a little while since we’ve had to do this as we stood down before the Sydney Olympics (in 2000), when equestrianism started getting money from UK Sport. We thought we would never be needed again but we have had to come out of mothballs! It’s going to be very expensive to go to Tokyo.”
The biggest fundraiser will be an on-line silent auction of “money-can’t-buy” lots that have been donated by members and contacts of the British equestrian team. View the lots here.
In keeping with the Olympic theme, some of the UK’s biggest equine names will parade at Cheltenham – including Nick Skelton’s double Olympic gold-winning ride Big Star, Charlotte Du Jardin’s incomparable twice gold-winner Valegro and William Fox-Pitt’s Rio ride and Badminton winner Chilli Morning.
In a special display before racing, it is hoped that 20-times Champion Jockey AP McCoy will return to the dressage saddle so we shall see how well his flying changes and piaffe have progressed since his dressage debut at Cheltenham in 2015.
Four years ago, AP took the reins of Grand Prix dressage horse Barolo, under the careful tutelage of Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin.
Local hunts will also parade and there will be plenty for racing fans too, as the Countryside Day could be said to mark the start proper of the jumps season and there will be six high-quality races, the feature event being the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase over the twists and turns of Cheltenham’s unique cross-country course.
CA Members can take advantage of our exclusive area on the day – it’s a place to relax, enjoy a drink and buffet lunch and leave your shopping as you enjoy your day at the races.
Tickets for Countryside Day can be purchased here.