aka Gina's Joy Ride

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Studio to Saddle

We're following ATR presenter Gina Bryce as she prepares to swap her microphone for reins in the St Patrick's Day Derby at the Cheltenham Festival. Aside from all the fun of competing in front of 50,000 people, Gina is riding to raise money for Cancer Research and you can sponsor her at www.justgiving.com/ginabryce.

15 February 2012

This week’s freezing temperatures and icy weather have certainly tested my commitment to the cause. Waking up at 6am with the temperature gauge hovering around -3°c has not been the most enjoyable experience albeit one which is a regular occurrence for Newmarket’s long suffering work riders. 

As if I wasn’t impressed enough with the team at John Berry’s and their iron legs that never tire, this week I also discovered their superhuman resilience to the cold.   While I took to the gallops with numb feet and more thermal layers than a mountain explorer, before making a quick dash to the warmth of my car, Hugh, Terri, Hannah and Martin spend the majority of their day outside in the cold. With taps frozen, the walkways iced up and extra horses in the boxes to muck out, the added work is tenfold but they get the job done without complaint. Wincing as I removed my glove to wash down my horse, it’s fair to say I felt pretty pathetic when I saw Hugh lugging water buckets across the yard with his bare hands. 

Gina is riding to raise money for Cancer Research and you can sponsor her at www.justgiving.com/ginabryce.

Once out on the snow-covered heath with the sun out, the early start and freezing temperatures suddenly become bearable particularly when you are riding two pieces of work back to back on the Al Bahathri. With slightly flushed cheeks, I returned from my first lot fairly smug that my legs had lasted out quite comfortably for once only to be told I would be repeating the exercise again in twenty minutes time. After coaxing my second lot along on his first ever trip to the Al Bahathri, there were certainly no complaints about being cold on the way home.

The testing conditions I faced this week, however, brought my motivation into sharp focus and more importantly reminded me of the great cause the St Patrick’s Derby is supporting. With the help of the incriminating At The Races feature, interviews on Talksport and Sky Sports Radio and an excellent article (accompanied by a slightly dodgy photo!) by Graham Clark in the Newmarket Journal, I am well on my way to raising plenty of money for Cancer Research.  I have been astounded by the support and generosity of people in donating to my fundraising effort not to mention the media outlets that have helped raise awareness for the race along the way and I want to thank everyone that has been kind enough to sponsor me. With just over four weeks to go, I hope I can keep up momentum to hit the £5000 mark. 

Brrrrr! My cheeks can feel the chill out on Newmarket heath aboard Alcalde.

In addition to relying on generous donations to my Just Giving site, the rather unique method of auctioning my body parts for company branding has so far proved a reasonably effective fundraising method. I am pleased to report that several key assets have already gone under the hammer with my backside sold to YourGolfTravel.com and my thighs to building contractors WellPool.  Upset to have missed out on prime advertising space, I am told Wellpool will be claiming fellow competitor Niall Hannity’s rear-end instead. A good deal when you consider how much more butt they’re hopefully getting for their buck so to speak! There’s also a fairly good chance we’ll all be looking at Niall’s behind when he crosses the line out front.

In an effort to get as close to Niall as possible, during the race that is, the week ahead will be another busy one with several trips to Newmarket planned in addition to a lesson with legendary Grand National winning rider, top presenter and now jockey coach extraordinaire Mick Fitzgerald.  Unfortunately for me though, I don’t think any amount of compliments is going to get me off lightly.

Gina is riding to raise money for Cancer Research and you can sponsor her at www.justgiving.com/ginabryce.