Bexley woman’s jockey journey
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 July 2018
A woman from Bexley will be taking part in a charity horse race at the Glorious Goodwood Festival next month in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Sarah Cook, 36, developed a passion for horses at six years old, when she was given her first pony, Pinocchio, from a family friend whose daughter had lost interest.
She said: “I was born into a non-horsey family and got my first taste of competition success when I was 10 on my pony, The King & I.
“I just come alive when I’m on a horse - I’m much more of an animal person than a people person.
“We show-jumped all over the south of England and were unbeatable against the clock.
“We rounded off our career at the UK National Championships in 2000 where we won two titles. He was my pony of a lifetime and I had a bracelet made up of his tail when I lost him, which I wore on my wedding day and will wear again during the race.”
Sarah, was a member of the under-21 show-jumping team in 2003 with her two horses Shambhala and Olympic Dream and went on to compete in senior International friendlies until 2009.
She said: “I chose to look after my horses into their golden oldie years and Olympic Dream, aged 30 is now the only horse I own and was maid of honour at my wedding in 2015!
“In more recent years I have been enjoying leisure riding and low-level competitions with Whisper, a horse I ride for an owner. In 2014 we were part of a team representing the British Dressage Southern Region.”
Sarah, who is sport secretary for the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror newspaper, first heard about the Magnolia Cup charity race through a work colleague.
“My journey started back in October, where I helped out at John Best’s yard in Sittingbourne to gain a bit of racing experience,” she said.
“There I sat on my first racehorse, Mullarkey, and led up a Malt-Teaser at Lingfield racecourse, an experience I will never forget.
“I then started riding out four to five lots per week for Pat Phelan in Epsom, who kindly offered to train me for the race.
“At first the speed and power of a racehorse terrified me but I’m just starting to get used it!”
Unfortunately Pay didn’t have a horse for Sarah to race that met the criteria and Sarah’s horse search began at the start of July, leading her all the ay to Birmingham where she met her Magnolia Cup ride Misty Birnam, trained by Ian Williams.
She said: “I’m now travelling to Birmingham twice a week to ride our for Ian, who has won the Magnolia Cup race twice.
“I’m super excited to ride Misty Birnam who definitely has the potential to win.”
Sarah’s biggest challenge was training for the compulsory jockey fitness test, which was held at the British Racing School in Newmarket, where a 60pc pass was needed.
“Before February this year I’d never been for a run or to a gym,” she said.
“The fitness test consists of a bleep test, wall squat, leg raises, resistance band arm push, wobble cushion squats, plank, push up hold position and riding finish on a mechanical horse.
“I was so relieved to pass at 70pc.”
Sarah trained to ride horses at Mount Mascal in Bexley. She said: “I will definitely always keep horses just as a lifelong hobby.”
She added: “I really can’t wait for the race. I’m been training extra hard lately.
“I see it as a once in a lifetime thing but people always tell me that once you’ve done a race you are absolutely hooked - so watch this space!”
Sarah will be riding on August 2 in memory of her uncle Patrick Coughlan.
To donate, visit Sarah’s just giving page at https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/the-mirror-mare.