On Friday Olympia’s Race Night kicks off with the return of the Markel Champions Challenge where the flat jockeys take on the national hunt jockeys in a team relay show jumping competition in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund. The rivalry between the jump jockeys and the flat jockeys is huge! AP McCoy has even come out of his retirement just to lead the jump jockeys after their defeat to Frankie Dettori’s flat team at Olympia last year!
The teams will have to tackle a course of show jumps clear with the least faults and quickest combined time to win. Each team has had training with top showjumpers in the run up to the competition and the Challenge will be commentated by Claire Balding MBE.
Meet the legendary teams:
National Hunt Team
- AP McCoy, winner of 20 consecutive Championship titles and over 4,000 races
- Richard Dunwoody, three-time Champion jockey
- Eight-time Champion jockey Peter Scudamore
- seven-time Champion jockey John Francome
- Frankie Dettori, three-time Champion jockey and over 500 Group Race wins
- Ryan Moore, three-time Champion Jockey
- Richard Hughes, three champion series wins and successful trainer
- Last season’s Champion jockey Jim Crowley
The Injured Jockeys Fund
This Champions Challenge is all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund. This charity is close to many jockey’s hearts due to the fantastic work they do within the racing and wider equestrian industry.
The Injured Jockeys fund was founded in 1964 after the devastating and career ending falls of Tim Brookshaw and Paddy Farrell. Since then the fund has gone on to support over 1000 jockeys and their families. They aim to improve the lives of jockeys and their families by providing appropriate support ranging from talking to the media to helping them get back in the saddle.
While the charity focuses on the racing industry, many riders from other disciplines also use their services and advice after coming back from a nasty fall or injury. They are specialists in helping jockeys get back in the saddle and this knowledge can be transferred to disciplines.
The Injured Jockeys Fund is an important charity in my family. It was a real passion of my Granddads and it is still very close to our hearts. We buy their Christmas cards every year from their online shop and always have a browse for presents for the equestrian. I personally feel that this is a charity every horse rider should take an interest in and if your favourites from the shop have already sold out in time for Christmas, please consider making a donation.
Jockeys of the future
The majority of jockeys we see on the racecourse started off pony racing and at Olympia you can also see the jockeys of the future taking part in the Shetland Grand National. Throughout the year children aged 8-13 travel the country competing in races on their Shetlands in the hope to qualify for the prestigious races at Olympia! This year the organisations chosen charity is the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, a cancer research charity which was founded after jockey Bob Champion returned to the saddle and won the 1981 Grand National after receiving treatment for cancer.