Monday 23rd of September 2019
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McCoy and his boys prove they’re the real deal

The Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) proved a huge crowd pleaser when, for the first time, five female jockeys, including recent big-race winner Bryony Frost, took on their male counterparts against the clock over the coloured poles in the unfamiliar environment of a densely packed indoor arena.

The fiercely competitive Boys’ Team, trained by Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton and captained by 20-time champion Sir “AP” McCoy with champion jockeys Richard Johnston and Ryan Moore, were victorious with a collective time of 151.16 seconds against the girls’ 159.11, but it was Bridget Andrews who was fastest of all, upholding female honour with the prize for the quickest round, in 33.88 seconds. 

Her fiancé, Harry Skelton, caused great hilarity when, last to go for the Boys’ Team and riding one of Laura Kraut’s jumpers, he suffered tack malfunction when the hackamore bridle ended up around the horse’s ears. Not to be defeated, he set off again, after some hasty repairs with a cable tie, but the same thing happened so he borrowed a teammate’s horse.

However, Harry had to settle for the third fastest time of 35.85 seconds behind flat jockey Jim Crowley.

“The wedding’s still on,” announced commentator Clare Balding.

Harry promised: “We’ll be back next year – with better tack.”

The jockeys were clearly thoroughly enjoying their Christmas party, but IJF president AP was quick to thank Olympia for giving the charity this great fund-raising platform. Next year, a third rehabilitation centre, named after the late commentator Sir Peter O’ Sullevan, will open in Newmarket.

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