Riders needed for Charity Race
Before she died, Hannah Francis expressed a wish to have a charity race run to raise funds for the Willberry Wonder Pony Charity she established.
Nick Skelton will be one of the celebrities participating
This event is to come to fruition in conjunction with one of racing's most famous cancer survivors, Bob Champion and the Bob Champion Cancer Trust. The Bob Champion Cancer Trust was established by Champion in 1983 and has so far raised over £14 million.
Champion commented: "Hannah Francis was a brave and inspirational person and I was fortunate enough to have met her.
"I feel honoured that the Bob Champion Cancer Trust can celebrate her life with the Champions Willberry Charity race, linking the charity she set up as her legacy with the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.
"I hope that everyone gets behind supporting us whether this is by applying to ride, attending the lunch, sponsorship, donations or prizes, so we can raise much needed funds for both charities."
Cheltenham Racecourse has agreed to stage this one-off Flat race, to be called the Champions Willberry Charity Race, on Thursday, April 20, 2017 during The April meeting.
Ian Renton, Regional Director Cheltenham and the South West, Jockey Club Racecourse, said: "We are delighted to be able to host this charity race in honour of two such rewarding charities.
"Hannah's story touched all of those in the equine world and the race will hopefully be a fitting tribute to her. I am delighted that Nick, Ben, Tina and William or Alice have already joined up and I am sure that many members of the public will be keen to do so as well."
Six celebrities will ride in the event including Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton, Olympic silver medallist Tina Cook and top eventer Ben Hobday, who himself battled cancer at the same time as Hannah. Either William or Alice Fox-Pitt will also take part.
The celebrities will be joined by six riders from the wider equestrian community. Applications are invited from riders from today onwards with a closing date of Monday, December 5, 2016. Forms and application guidelines can be found and downloaded www.championswillberry.org.uk
Key criteria will be that you are over 18, a competent rider, can pledge to raise over £2,500 and are able to source your own horse.
There will be an official lunch on the day with a range of fund-raising activities to raise money for the two charities.
Ian Peters, Trustee of the Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony Charity, said: "The equestrian community has been overwhelming in its support for Hannah's legacy and to share this day with the Bob Champion Cancer Trust is the highest honour.
"We hope people will generously support the heroes riding, and those inspiring their efforts – Bob and Hannah.
"The fight against cancer needs heroes and we know the equestrian community will stand shoulder to shoulder with ours."
Please go to www.championswillberry.org.uk for all details of how to apply, how to get involved in sponsorship of the race and the jockeys riding, how to attend the race and lunch on the day and how to donate.
The April meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse takes place on Wednesday, April 19 and Thursday, April 20, 2017.
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