BBC sports presenter and director/producer of the Omega Equine All Star Academy, Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes, has won a charity race for the British Horse Society.
Lizzie celebrated a dead heat victory with retired police officer Fiona Symes. Other jockeys in the race at Newbury Racecourse included international event riders Louise Harwood and Simon Grieve.
Lizzie admitted she wasn’t prepared for the hard task ahead, and failed her first fitness test at the British Race School.
“It’s a really tough test and I hadn’t done anything to prepare for it, as I’d just got back from my holiday, eating chips and drinking wine!” Lizzie laughed.
Lizzie took herself off to trainer Jamie Osbourne to get racing fit, who told Lizzie she was “rubbish, but not as rubbish as I thought you’d be!”.
Despite his proclamation, he obviously thought Lizzie showed some promise as he offered her the ride on Rippling Waters.
“Jamie said I needed to ride out every day, but I couldn’t commit to that as I was filming the Omega Equine All Star Academy at the time – and I have two children!” says Lizzie. “But I went to him a couple of times a week and I also trained with Lawney Hill, who trained Victoria Pendleton.”
Lizzie is the producer and director of Horse & Country’s popular reality show, which premieres on 25 November at 9pm. But she managed to juggle her busy work schedule with her training, which saw her ride around 20 different race horses.
“I was riding the two-year-olds and it was really scary, so I pretty quickly learned to use the neck strap,” says Lizzie. “But I didn’t sit on Rippling Waters until the day before the race.
“The thing I was most nervous about was getting to the start. I had no control – I was standing up in the stirrups trying to stop him! But once I got there I just wanted to go.
“I was very focussed as Jamie told me when the flag came down I had to be the first to jump off.”
It was a thrilling race, with Lizzie and Fiona battling it out for first place – incredibly they crossed the finish line together.
“It was a wonderful experience, and I was on a high for days after,” says Lizzie. “But it was much harder that I expected, I didn’t appreciate how much effort was going to be involved.”
As well as having a lot of fun, the jockeys have so far raised more than £18,000 between them.
Tracy Castles, director of fundraising for the British Horse Society said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to all ten jockeys and their supporters for their incredible efforts both on the day and in the lead up to the race.
“The £18,000 raised so far will be hugely beneficial to the BHS, in all areas of work. We are all looking forward to the many BHS charity races to come”.
You can pledge money by visiting Just Giving.
Don’t miss the Omega Equine All Star Academy when it premieres on Horse & Country on Sunday 25 November at 9pm.