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06 September 2023

Hannah Bicket developed a taste for adventure after taking part in the first running of the Guacho Derby in 2020. The riding enthusiast is now taking on the Bob Champion Charity Race at Wincanton in October. Hannah talks to Racing Together about both past and present challenges and her motivating for supporting the charity.

The Bob Champion Trust helping lives

I am delighted to be raising money for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, which supports and raises funds for the Bob Champion Cancer Research Laboratory, which forms part of the largest male dedicated research facility in Europe. In the UK, more than 143 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day and one man dies of it every 45 minutes.

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and it continues to destroy lives and families across the globe. With funding and awareness, the cancer can be detected so much earlier and increase the survival rate dramatically. I hope to raise £3,000 for the charity and to raise awareness of the marvellous work performed by the Bob Champion Team, and the cancers they are fighting.

Appetite for a different challenge

I was lucky enough to be one of the pioneers on the first running of the Gaucho Derby – a 500km, ten-day race in Argentine Patagonia. The experience was unbelievable and ever since I returned I had been hankering for the next adventure. Some intensive saving allowed me to sign up for Mongol Derby – the world’s longest horse race. I have had my eye on the race for years as these races provide a unique combination of adrenaline-fuelled adventure and a serious need for endurance, discipline and teamwork. The charity race, on the other hand, is a totally different challenge altogether. It has been on my mind since first riding out at jumps trainer Warren Greatrex’s yard three years ago. When you ride these magnificent horses every day, I think it is only natural to wonder what it would feel like to cross that finish line. Now out the game, I am desperate to keep some tie to the industry and when the race popped up on Instagram it seemed the perfect opportunity.

Photo credit: Kathy Gabriel

Learning to let go now back in the saddle

The Mongol Derby was testing in almost every way imaginable: the physical and mental test was relentless, the variables extreme and the horses challenging. Having just returned from riding out for the first time in ten months, I can safely say that this next challenge will not be any easier! I’ve always found it really tricky getting back into exercising racehorses when I’ve been out of it for a while as my self-preservation kicks in, and I struggle to relax the horses. In addition, the preparation for both the derby and the charity race has proved challenging while being based in London. I ride for the cavalry three times a week and go to pilates and spinning classes, but it is not the same as riding out. However, I have come to enjoy the varied routine and will certainly try to keep it up even after the race.

My wonderful mornings in Hyde Park

I am currently working in London at a Private Members Club but, since graduating from Bristol University in 2019, where I studied Law, I have worked in various industries, including an eighteen-month stint in racing. I have ridden since I was six and competed in three-day eventing from eleven up until university. Life is no longer so horse orientated but I am extremely lucky to be able to ride out in Hyde Park several mornings a week for the Household Cavalry. I was never especially sporty and, to be honest, never possessed any particular talent. However, I think that learning to deal with disappointment from a young age has really helped me to take on new challenges and to give things a go even when they are out of my comfort zone.

Charity races promote genuine inclusivity

Racing is only something I got into because of the pandemic and I feel so lucky to have experienced such a collegiate industry, full of enthusiasm and passion for a wonderful sport. I think that charity races are an incredibly important part of the calendar because they add to this inclusive ethos and provide an opportunity for people involved in the sport to have a goal to work towards, and to experience being at the other end of lead rein coming into the winners enclosure. Charity races are also a fantastic PR opportunity to provide good news stories and raise awareness of the sport and the charities involved.

Feature image credit – Shari Thompson

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