It’ll feel like beach holiday time at Andoversford Races next Sunday April 8th as donkeys supersede racehorses to take centre stage at the popular Cotswold Point-to-Point races. A three races challenge is set to upstage the Thoroughbreds as riders go head to head to raise funds for Cotswold Riding for the Disabled in donkey-drawn sulkies.
The challenge is the brainchild of Andoversford Races’ Chairman Peter McNeile, who explained, “Last year we introduced camel racing to the programme, and it created such a stir we felt we had to repeat something similar. Our courageous riders have signed up for our equally courageous donkeys, and we should all be in stitches by the time it’s over.”
Teams representing the racing stables of Martin Keighley and Graeme McPherson are pitting their reputations against a team from the Cotswold Hunt and a posse of young riders from the Cotswold branch of RDA. Each team has to raise a minimum £300 toward the charity, guaranteeing a winning day for Cotswold RDA.
“We’re delighted to have been asked to become involved,” adds the charity’s General Manager Claire Jenkins. “Not only is this a chance to raise our visibility among horsemen from across the region, but it will also give our young riders a chance to compete on level terms with able-bodied riders, which will boost their confidence. The team has been in training for some time, and we plan to surprise the professionals!”
Captain of Team Keighley is trainer’s wife Belinda, a serial pro at these sorts of events. Formerly a very proficient Point-to-Point rider, Belinda’s team won the camel racing challenge in 2017. “Before Martin embarked on his training career, I worked with Peter at Cheltenham Racecourse. He’s made it a mission to involve me in every daft caper at Andoversford ever since! RDA is a great charity though, and we’ll be trying our best to protect our winning reputation!”
The RE Resource Donkey Derby takes place at around 1pm between Pony racing and the first steeplechase.