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09 August 2021

Brand consultant and former adviser to Samantha Cameron, Isabel Spearman took on the challenge of riding in the Magnolia Cup in support of the charity Smart Works.

All photos with thanks to Hattie Austen

I have learnt a lot about an industry I knew very little about beforehand and it has completely opened my eyes. I was inspired by Khadijah Mellah (winning the Magnolia Cup) a few years ago and it was a brilliant example that anyone can take up this sport. I know Goodwood have exciting plans about opening up the process for next year’s race, which would create opportunities for women of many more different backgrounds to have the chance to race. It really is a once in a lifetime experience and I feel very lucky to have taken part in The Magnolia Cup presented by Markel. 

Charity goal inspired me

I was approached by Goodwood several years ago to ride in the race and I asked them if they would consider supporting Smart Works, for which I am Ambassador.

It felt right to be doing all the training and fundraising for a cause that I am passionate about. The Magnolia Cup traditionally supports charities that empower women, so it felt like a natural fit and I was over the moon when they said yes. 

Fashion as force for good

I started volunteering for Smart Works when I worked with Samantha Cameron at No10. We both wanted to find a charity that used fashion as a force for good and I got to know the team very well during that time. We were later made Ambassadors and continued to support the charity. The concept of Smart Works is a very simple one: if you rebuild a woman’s confidence she can transform her life. By giving clients one-to-one dressing and mentoring sessions they are better equipped at their next job interview, as they feel more confident about themselves. 

Great response to fundraising

I lined up with trainer Eve Johnson Houghton a few years ago through mutual friends. I also really liked the idea of riding for a lady trainer. I started with her in March, riding four lots twice a week and also visited George Baker, the ex-jockey at Oaksey House in Lambourn.

Eve always had a horse for me, although we were not sure exactly which one I would ride until the week before the race, but I was in a very lucky position. I personally raised £10.8k, which was over double of my target, which I am thrilled about. I think being an Ambassador with the charity really helped me drum up the momentum for asking friends and family, and they were all unbelievably generous. 

Race result not everything

The actual day was incredible, I was worried that after months of being nervous about the race that I wouldn’t enjoy it, but Goodwood manage it so beautifully. I was bitterly disappointed not to do better in the race – a few basic mistakes from me and my horse not really running true to form didn’t help. However, we have raised a huge sum for Smart Works and they are the real winners of The Magnolia Cup. After a really tough year of fundraising owing to Covid, this will really give them the financial injection they need to help more women back into the workplace. It is a huge amount of money for a small charity, and they are so grateful to Goodwood for all they have done. 

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