By Simon Jackson.
The architect of the first horse race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities on Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket in October says he hopes the race will become an annual event.
The sporting rivalry between the light blue of Cambridge and Oxford’s dark blue is best known for the boat race along the Thames that they first contested in 1829.
But the one mile race on the Rowley Mile on October 17 is the first time students from the two campuses have gone head to head on a racecourse and fulfils a long-held plan by student Harry Beckett who conceived the idea.
“I’ve spent two years trying to get this race off the ground so I’m delighted to see it come to fruition,” Beckett said.
“I sincerely hope that this is just the start of a real connection between racecourses and students, as there is a real need for more sustainable investment.
“There are so many people I would like to thank for making this happen and fingers-crossed it will become an annual event, enabling riders to qualify for a Blue in future years.”
The race adds further interest on the day for student racegoers who have been offered free entry to Newmarket and also to QIPCO British Champions Day on October 18 at Ascot.
“This new race is a great innovation for racing and we’re delighted that the students at Oxford and Cambridge have embraced the idea with such enthusiasm,” Great British Racing’s chief executive, Rod Street, said.
“We hope students turn out in force to cheer on the riders and take advantage of the amazing free entry offers at Newmarket and Ascot.”
Seven riders from each university are currently undertaking training. Five jockeys for each team will be selected in early October and Cambridge captain Oli Lawrence and Oxford skipper Lizzy Hamilton are looking forward to continuing the two institutions’ rivalry.
“I am honoured to be captaining the first ever horse racing team for Cambridge – it’s a brilliant addition to the existing varsity sporting competitions and one that hopefully will be part of history for years to come,” Lawrence said.
“I hope all my fellow students get behind us and come along to support this event.”
Hamilton added, “I cannot wait to take part in the varsity horse race – it’s a superb initiative. Rivalry between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge goes back so many centuries and we cannot wait to compete against Cambridge on the racecourse.”
To obtain free tickets students need only go to the Newmarket or Ascot websites and key in a discount code.
For tickets to Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket on Friday October 17, use the promotional code STUDENT14. Students are able to register for four tickets but will only be granted admission with a valid photo student ID.
For tickets to QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday October 18, use the promotional code STUDENTSBCD. Admission will be with valid photo student ID only and students will only be able to register for one ticket.
For more information on how to register for tickets and for the latest updates on student activity on the day, please go to http://www.britishchampionsseries.com/students/free-racing-weekend.html
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.