It was refreshing to learn this week that there are other people out there just as crazy as me. One in particular is a guy called Richard Ward, who three years ago in aid of Sport Relief ran a mile at each of the then 60 British racecourses. In a week! He was aided and abetted by his then girlfriend Victoria, who helped with the driving and sourcing a sponsor for the project, using her background in marketing to drum up support from local and national media. Later, their wedding was Frankel-themed, with all the colours, including Richard’s tie, in the famous pink and aqua.
Naturally, they chose the day after the 2012 Cheltenham Festival to begin their adventure – some things just can’t be missed. I was particularly interested in the chosen route, in excess of 2,500 miles and 70 hours behind the wheel, given that not so long ago I was also trying to plot as sensible a path as possible around the racecourses.
“We started in the South West in Bath and headed down to Devon” described Vic, “then back along the south coast, the South East, headed up to the East, then Midlands, North East England, Scotland, North West England, into Wales and finished in Newbury.”
Photos on their Facebook page attest to the demanding nature of that week, not least because “the car began to smell of sweat and deep heat!” But they both soldiered on, completed their mission, and raised over £8,000 for the charity. Catch up with the story at:
To say Richard is a horse racing fan would be like saying Frankel was quite good. His infatuation with the sport began at primary school in the 1980s when he ran a book on the Grand National and the winner took home £20. That could buy you a lot of Pacers in those days. The teachers found out and he was sent home in disgrace, but his parents were quite impressed by his efforts. Since that day his love of the gee gees has never wavered, and now he has a new a horse racing website, aptly named geegeewiz.co.uk.
The site is dedicated to a new concept that Richard and Vic have developed called Whole In One. The ingenious venture is a crossover between two popular ideas – the pool bet and the fantasy league. In this trial phase they are looking for 2,500 people to sign up to the ten week competition which starts this coming Saturday at Doncaster. Everyone then selects a horse in the first six races of the chosen weekend fixture and scores points according to their finishing positions. Therefore, it is more interactive than a season-long fantasy league, but offers more flexibility that a pool bet.
“The players are still in the running for a prize even if they don’t win or place the first race, whereas the current models would void that ticket” explained Vic.
If they get their full quota of entrants, the pool shall pay out up to £90,000 over the ten weeks, with a top prize of £10,000 for the best score overall. There is even a prize of £500 for the worst score each week! All of this is yours for just £50 for the ten week competition, or the equivalent of two pints of beer a week (one if you live in or around London). To sign up follow the link at:
Before any cynics suggest I have an interest in the competition, I shall declare that I have two. Firstly, I have entered and should be challenging for the worst-score prize on a regular basis. Secondly, all profits from the trial will go towards The Racehorse Sanctuary, the fine institution in Surrey that rescues, rehabilitates and retrains racehorses when their careers are over. I was fortunate enough to visit the Sanctuary in March just before starting my own absurd quest, and was utterly taken with the ambiance, ethos and hard work that everyone there does on a daily basis to act as a safety net for the sport that I love.
“Once the idea had come about and it was likely to go live, we created a list of charities we’d like to approach to get involved with,” said Vic, “and The Racehorse Sanctuary was top of our list. After the initial chat with Graham, Richard came home so excited that they were such a lovely charity, and that he really wanted to work with them.”
I know that feeling well. Good luck to Richard, Vic and of course The Racehorse Sanctuary with the Whole In One project.