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Alexis Green on BBC Weather 30 July 2019

Alexis Green is most often seen on our TV screens as a BBC South’s Weather Presenter and Journalist. On 1st August she lines up as one of Goodwood’s Magnolia Cup riders to raise funds for Wellbeing of Women.

Feeling part of the family

I didn’t know that the Magnolia Cup existed until I googled ‘local charity horse races’. I contacted Goodwood in 2012 to see if they would let me ride and be filmed by the BBC. Obviously, they didn’t know my experience with horses and they were curious. The relationship we have had from that first year has really been an incredible one. They have supported me all the way and I hope I have given them the coverage on TV and social media that each charity deserves. 

I’ve always been a very competitive person, competing at National level in many sports and International Juniors in running. When it comes to horse riding I am the same way. The Magnolia Cup is very competitive but it’s also a very friendly race. Some of the girls I’ve ridden with before are still my friends today. It certainly is one big racing family.

A childhood amongst horses

I’ve been fascinated with racing since I first learned to ride at the age of five. I always wanted to gallop rather than canter, and dressage just didn’t really interest me. I grew up on a farm in Fordingbridge and I used to ride Prince Phillip Cup games and Cross Country on the rescue ponies my family took on. When it came to horseracing, I definitely was inspired by my local racing yard, Whitsbury Stud in Hampshire, which housed the famous Desert Orchid.

The first time I rode a racehorse wasn’t at my local yard, but in Lambourn in 2012. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in riding horses. Trainer John Hills  introduced me to the world of horse racing. He taught me how to ride two-year-old thoroughbreds and educated me about how the racing community worked. Each morning we’d debrief in his office with his wife and they both made me feel so welcome; it was a must that I didn’t leave without a bacon butty. Very sadly, John passed away a year after he was kind enough to offer me his guidance.

A younger Alexis

Listening and learning was key

It wasn’t just John Hills and his wife who gave me great support in the first year I rode in the Magnolia Cup, I also gained my experience from the jockeys and grooms at the yard. Every one of them welcomed me with open arms and helped me towards my goal, which was Goodwood. Without their helpful tips I wouldn’t be the rider I am today, and I am very grateful. 

The thrill and exhilaration of galloping at 40mph made me addicted. To this day, I’ve never fallen off a racehorse but I have come close, hanging around the necks of various two-year-olds on numerous gallops across the south. I think my years spent riding in the Prince Phillip Games in the Pony Club helped me to learn to hang on for dear life, especially at full gallop! 

Alexis riding out
Alexis getting some training on the gallops

Wellbeing of Women a perfect fit with Cup

This year the 12 ladies in the Magnolia Cup are riding for the amazing charity ‘Wellbeing of Women’. Until I spoke to the charity, I had no idea how much they do for women across the country. Wellbeing of Women is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to finding cures and treatments for female reproductive and gynaecological health; including pregnancy & childbirth, ovary and cervical cancer, and overlooked areas like endometriosis and the menopause.

My training is going to plan and I’m now back to work after being on maternity leave for 10 months. Training has been hard with a young baby but it’s also been a great break for me – everyone needs their ‘ME’ time. 

In preparation for this year I’ve been riding out at Chris Gordon’s yard in Hampshire. He’s been very kind to let me ride his horses and train on a weekly basis on the South Downs near Winchester, where I was born. 

I’ve always been physically fit, having previously been a personal trainer and studied for a sports science degree. To me, fitness is an everyday thing in some shape or form: whether it’s walking the dog or doing a dedicated workout. After having my daughter, I struggled to find the energy to train, but I knew I had to get my body back to full fitness. 

When Goodwood asked me to ride, it was the kick-start that I needed. I think I’m possibly fitter now than I’ve been in previous years. I’m aware of the type of ‘fit’ I need to be; horse riding uses different muscles to other sports. There are certain exercises we need to do to become racing fit. I find the fitness of jockeys unbelievable. I’ve been doing all the exercises under the sun to help me get fit for this year’s Magnolia Cup and I think I’m ready. 

Charity races still as popular as ever

I think it’s great that racecourses host charity events like the Magnolia Cup. I’ve not been lucky enough to experience races at other venues but I’ve heard a lot from ladies that have competed at other racecourses. They do say, though, that nothing beats being at the most beautiful racecourse in the world, Goodwood.

Alexis taking part in a previous Magnolia Cup
Alexis sporting the uniquely designed silks as part of the Magnolia Cup on a previous ride in the race

There is always more that can be done to promote charity racing. Some owners and trainers are reluctant to let their horses run in a charity race, which is understandable and that makes it hard sometimes to find a horse as a charity horse rider. This year I have very kindly been given Kate Digweed’s horse ‘Wiff Waff’ to ride in the race and I can’t wait.

When it comes to the charity I think each race is priceless. Over time, with charity races becoming more popular we can hopefully gain a greater following for the events and the worthy causes they support. 

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