TWELVE trainee jockeys will saddle up on thoroughbreds at York Racecourse to raise thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The amateur riders were unveiled yesterday (Jan 18) as the competitors for the charity's Best Western Hotels-sponsored Ride of their Lives event.
Following months of intense training, they will compete in front of a 25,000-plus crowd at the Macmillan Charity Raceday on Saturday, June 11.
The 12, who include a mother of two, a nurse and a salon owner, have all pledged to raise at least £2,500 for Macmillan.
In so doing, they will enter the record books as part of the world's oldest and biggest charity raceday, which has raised more than £6.5 million in 45 years.
Among the dozen is 48-year-old mum-of-two Julie Kelshaw, who is set to race almost three years to the day from being diagnosed with cancer in her tongue. She was successfully treated following major surgery in York.
She said: “When you’re told you have cancer, you’re in shock and it’s difficult to take it all in," said Julie, from Harrogate.
"I had two Macmillan nurses who were there for me from the start, through my treatment and recovery.
"I had all sorts of questions about my operation - it was going to last 10 hours so I was quite worried.
"They knew the treatment like the back of their hand so they were able to put my mind at rest.
"They visited me everyday I was in hospital and when I was back home I knew they were only ever a phone call away. They were fantastic.
"I wanted to take part in the race to give something back to Macmillan, and because it’s in York where I had my operation.
"I’m really excited about the day; there are plans for a coach-load of friends and family to come over to cheer me on.
"I’ve ridden since I was a child but I’ve only started riding again regularly since last summer.
"I’ve got a lot of riding ahead of me and work in the gym. It’s a big challenge but that’s exactly what I was looking for.”
Riders will be given expert riding tuition at the Northern Racing College in Doncaster and back at York with former champion jockey Kevin Darley.
Head of marketing and sponsorship at York Racecourse, James Brennan, said “Once again a dozen brave amateurs have committed to ride their dream around the Knavesmire.
"With thousands watching they don’t want it to become a nightmare, so I know they’ll listen to Kevin and their other coaches as they prepare for the big day in June.
"They will be acutely aware that a successful ride means a successful fundraising event so please come to cheer them home.”
The 12 riders are: Owen Dukes (48, from Acklam, Malton), Christine Swiers (53, Helperby, York), Ruth Carr (39, Stillington, York), Julie Kelshaw (48, from Harrogate), Marcia Sanderson, (47, Ripon), Steve Charlton (61, Bishop Auckland), Rebecca Robinson (44, Brompton by Sawdon, Scarborough), Debra Boyes (35, Pickering), Susanne Martin (41, York), Siobhan Carey (34, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks), Keith Oakes (51, Appleby in Westmoreland, Cumbria), Jules Brown (Mottram in Longdendale, Cheshire).