Eleven eager amateur jockeys are chomping at the bit after being selected to compete in the 49th annual Macmillan Charity Raceday, which will take place on June 15th at the iconic York Racecourse.
With previous competitors in the Ernest Cooper Macmillan Ride of their Lives including Love Island star Chris Hughes, Macmillan’s ‘Ride of Their Lives’ forms part of the largest charity raceday in British racing.

The amateur jockeys will train for months to prepare for the event, all the while raising sponsorship money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Funds raised will help Macmillan to be right there with people living with cancer throughout the UK. 

This year actor, Patrick Kennedy, 41, will be taking part in memory of his father.

“My Dad was race - mad, we went to the races all the time and so it was part of my upbringing,” said Patrick. “My father died of cancer when I was 21 and it also affected his father and my uncle, so this event definitely means a lot to me.”

Patrick has appeared in series including Black Mirror and Downtown Abbey – and has even ridden a horse on screen as Lt. Waverly in the 2011 film, War Horse. 

“I’ll probably have to wear some lucky green socks for the day, given my Irish roots and the Macmillan colours,” said Patrick.

18-year-old Leah Cooper is also taking part in this year’s event. She is riding in memory of her grandmother, who died from cancer a year ago.

Leah said: “I was so happy when I found out I’d been selected to race. My Nana kept horses and I’ve been riding since I could walk, so I’m feeling prepared.

“You don’t know when cancer is coming. Anyone can get it at any time. I just hope that the money we raise can make a big difference to people going through it and help support them.”

A collaboration between York Racecourse and Macmillan Cancer Support, the wider raceday has raised more than £8 million to help people living with cancer since it launched in 1971.

James Brennan, Head of Marketing at York Racecourse said: “We have been hosting the Macmillan Charity Raceday for almost 50 years now and it gets bigger and better every year. In more recent years, the Ernest Cooper Macmillan ‘Ride of Their Lives’ has become increasingly important in both raising funds and spreading the word.”

“The riders will be putting in months of training to prepare for the big day. They’re doing their bit so it’s up to the rest of us to dig deep and help them raise as much money as possible for Macmillan. Just attending to cheer them on will help, as the partnership sees money donated out of every admission ticket.”  

Alex Schimmel, Senior Supporter Events Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “Macmillan Charity Raceday is our single biggest fundraising event and the money it raises helps us to support people dealing with the physical, financial and emotional effects of cancer. It’s a privilege to collaborate once again with York Racecourse to raise even more life-changing funds.” 

To sponsor a Macmillan Charity Raceday rider visit  

Riders confirmed so far for the Best Western Hotels & Macmillan Ride of their Lives:

Charlotte Atkinson, 25, from Harrogate has been riding all her life. She is taking part in the race in memory of her grandparents who loved racing and her grandfather who sadly passed away due to prostate cancer.

Karl Avison, 56, a farmer from Yorkshire has always been interested in horses and racing and started breeding thoroughbreds when he was 17.

Leah Cooper, 18, from York has been racing since she was a child. Racing has always been in her family and she’s hoping to carry on the tradition.

Catherine Dwyer, 22, who has recently moved to Ireland comes from a racing family as her father was a jockey.

Michael Grech, 59, a businessman from Manchester, has a keen interest in horseracing and even owns his own racehorse.

Lady Halifax, 69, Macmillan’s National President, from Yorkshire has been into riding since she was a child but has never taken part in a race.

Patrick Kennedy, 42, Actor Patrick Kennedy, from London was brought up going to the races with his father who sadly died of cancer when Patrick was 21. He is racing in memory of him.

Nicky McGrath, 38, from Leyburn, North Yorkshire, is an experienced rider who works at a pre-training livery.

Kate Poulter, 22, lives in a remote valley in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. She grew up surrounded by ponies and currently owns her own racehorse. She was also captain of her university riding team.

Lauren Stanley, 31, a pilates instructor from London, grew up “pony mad” but lost touch with riding as she got older. After a 13-year gap she is getting back in the saddle for the Macmillan Charity.

Abi Stock, 25, from Worcestershire works at Stratford racecourse and has been riding since a young age but has never ridden in a race before. She is riding in memory of her father who passed away from pancreatic cancer last year.