My ride in Glorious Goodwood's 2018 Magnolia Cup - the premier charity race for amateur women riders
When the phone rang on June 14 asking if I could ride in this year’s Magnolia Cup, my heart leapt. This was a race I had always wanted to ride in.
I was standing in the gallery (Osborne Studio Gallery) I manage, and the excitement and desire for a challenge was overwhelming. Although it was short notice, seven weeks until race day, I needed to get race-fit quickly.
First I rang trainer Eve Johnson-Houghton who I hunt with and she said, 'Well, you better come and ride out two lots on Saturday - oh and by the way – we are now pulling out at 6am due to the heat!’ The second person I called was John Reid who had coached me for my last two rides and is, without question, the best coach about.
To be able to take part, all the riders had to pass a fitness test at the British Racing School. This was exactly two weeks after the initial call up and was described as a ‘box ticking process’ to make sure all the riders are fit and prepared.
The reality was no joke - a day of pain and endurance, bleep tests, planks, leg-raises, squats, press-ups. All followed by a riding assessment and a lesson on the Equisizor. No one should underestimate how fit jockeys are and by the end of the day the girls and I were on our knees, but happy to have passed.
I moved out of London and back to my parents’ home in Lambourn so I could spend the whole month riding out everyday. Each morning my alarm went off at 4.30am, I rode two lots at Woodway, then travelled to London and to a very understanding boss Geoffrey Hughes, owner of the gallery.
I returned each evening by 8pm to start the whole process again. The weather helped hugely and I loved being up on the downs in the sunshine as Eve banged in winner after winner.
There is something addictive about the camaraderie of a yard. Once you have shown dedication and are not just a blow in - you become part of the gang, one of the lads. They could not have done enough for me, giving me tips, lending me kit or pulling out the last few shavings I had missed in the tail.
My mount was to be New Rich. Eve described him as ‘a monkey but he will look after you’. At eight years young Rich really did whatever he felt like and as predicted was an angel unless he decided to whip round!
This year’s race was in aid of Cancer Research UK and to help raise the profile the riders used social media to illustrate our progress. So far I have raised £5,200 and jointly nearly £50,000!
From the start we were spoilt by Goodwood. We each had a 4x4 Jaguar + driver to escort us throughout. Our wonderful silks were all designed by morvlondon – part of her Suffragette collection. They were beautiful.
I was driven to the racecourse and met by Colin Brown for a course walk and weigh in. As we reached the highest point of the track we could see the stand in front of us. The shivers went up my spine and I knew this was going to be a hell of an experience.
After a million photos in the paddock, I got my instructions from Eve to ‘Kick on!’ and suddenly we were cantering down. Rich was the perfect gentleman, pricking his ears as the crowd shouted our names.
The start was chaos - which was expected. But Rich stayed on with some hands’n’heels encouragement. We didn’t get our head in front, but I was elated. He had given me a great ride and we pulled up easily.
Nynke was waiting to collect us and she beamed saying ‘He did what I said he would – just enough!’
That evening the Duke of Richmond invited us to a ball at Goodwood House and the sponsor Swarovski lent us all jewellery, which I was reluctant to hand back!
To ride at Glorious Goodwood was something I never thought I would do. The journey this race has taken me on has taught me dedication and perseverance. This challenge exceeded my expectations and I would love to do it all over again!
You can still donate to Anna's Cancer Research UK fundraising page: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/anna-rowlinson-magnolia-cup
With thanks to Anna Rowlinson, Debbie Burt of equinecreativemedia.com and West Berkshire Racing Club