A RENOWNED poet has backed a charity race day in York by penning a poem in honour of the flagship fundraising event.

Ian McMillan, Yorkshire poet and BBC radio presenter known affectionately as ‘The Bard of Barnsley’, has got behind Macmillan Cancer Support by writing the poem in honour of the ‘Ride of Their Lives’ charity horse race at York Racecourse.

Macmillan’s ‘Ride of Their Lives’ race sees members of the public completing six months of intense jockey training and fundraising before racing thoroughbred horses on York’s iconic Knavesmire course, each amateur rider is committed to raising at least £4,000 to support the charity's work.

Ian McMillan’s poem ‘The Ride of Their Lives’ is a celebration of the race, having raised a huge amount for charity, as well as the riders’ challenge of training for the race and the achievement in establishing itself as one of the most successful charity horse races in the country.

Ian said: “When Macmillan approached me to write a poem to celebrate the race, I started to think about the parallels between training for the race and people going through gruelling cancer treatments.

“We’ve all faced challenges during the pandemic, having a diagnosis of cancer on top of this intensifies the feelings of worry and anxiety.

“I wanted to capture the challenges faced by people living with cancer, the sentiment of the poem feels very poignant right now.”

The charity horse race, now in its tenth year, typically raises tens of thousands of pounds for Macmillan each year. Current and past amateur riders have raised over £1.2 million for people living with cancer.

Megan Hayman Tansley, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We’re extremely honoured that Ian McMillan has written this poem for Macmillan to celebrate the Ride of Their Lives charity race and we can’t thank him enough for this wonderful gesture.

“One in two of us will get cancer and people living with cancer are being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis, Covid-19 and the additional costs associated with a diagnosis.

“A cancer diagnosis can feel very lonely and the fact that people are continuing to donate their time and money to make life that much better for Macmillan is humbling and so very appreciated.”

The Macmillan ‘Ride of Their Lives’ race will be the first race of the day on Saturday June 11. The Macmillan Charity Raceday at York is the oldest running charity raceday in the country and 2022 marks over 50 years of the partnership, in which time over £9 million has been raised for people living with cancer.

Racing fans can support the day of fundraising just by attending. For further information and to book tickets, visit the York Racecourse website.