All-Weather champions come together to support NHS charity

Curtis and Appleby crowned top jockey and trainer respectively.

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Over £25,000 has been donated to a charity supporting the NHS by the winners of the All-Weather Championships titles.

Jockey Ben Curtis, trainer Mick Appleby and owners Godolphin have all made donations to SASH, the charity for East Surrey Hospital and all the services provided by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, after topping their respective categories.

Curtis amassed 101 victories as the leading rider – just one win short of the mark set by Luke Morris in 2015 – with the season, which was due to culminate with Finals Day at Lingfield, cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Curtis said: “I have had a brilliant campaign on the all-weather over the winter. I rode winners for a lot of different contacts, particularly Mick Appleby and Tony Carroll who provided me with a lot of winners. Mick puts a lot of focus on the all-weather and it was great to see him get his just rewards by being champion trainer.

“I had great support around me – I have a brilliant agent in Simon Dodds, my dad came over and drove me for a good while, and my wife kept my head in the right place and looked after our young lad, so I did not have to worry about any of that.

“Luke Morris and Hollie Doyle kept me on my toes the whole way through it. Both of them were riding winners relentlessly and it meant I had to up my game. In any sport you need competition, and I think the competition was rife this year.

“My one regret is falling just short of Luke Morris’ record. I would have loved to set a new British record for the all-weather and, had we been able to finish the season, hopefully I would have done that.

“I am giving a donation of £2,000. The NHS do so much for us on a daily basis. I have had a few falls and they have always looked after me impeccably. I think now more than ever people are appreciating what they do.”

Godolphin are leading owners for the sixth consecutive year and managing director Hugh Anderson said: “Full credit must go to the whole team, who have all played a part in another successful season.

“In light of the current situation, it seemed entirely appropriate that we donate our prize to those who are working tirelessly to help the country.”

Appleby, who sent out 54 winners, has pledged £2,000 of his prize, adding: “I think that is our best tally of winners for the All-Weather Championships, even though the season ended prematurely.

“I have a great team of staff and owners, and it is lovely to win the AWC Champion Trainer title again.

“We thought at the start of the season that we had a nice team of horses, certainly stronger than last season, and it is great that it has worked out that way. Hopefully, they can carry that form on during the turf season.”

George Rooke was the leading apprentice and he has pledged to donate to the charity, along with runner-up Grace McEntee.

Dubai Warrior is the Horse of the Year – an accolade that is decided on prize-money. His owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum has donated his category prize of £10,000 to SASH.

Agent Of Fortune secured the prize for the most successful horse of the campaign, winning seven times for Gary Moore and owners the Foreign Legion syndicate, improving 32lb in the process.

The Foreign Legion have pledged £1,000 of their prize to SASH, as well as supporting the staff at Moore’s yard who were able to prepare Agent Of Fortune for a total of 11 starts across the truncated winter campaign.

Andy Thornes of the Foreign Legion syndicate said: “Gary and his team absolutely adore Agent Of Fortune and have done an absolutely amazing job in transforming her to win seven of her first nine races for us.

“We have been on an incredible journey since buying her for just 3,000 guineas at the sales in October and we are looking forward to seeing her back on the track soon.”

Andrew Bickerdike, fundraising manager at SASH, thanked all the champions for supporting hospital staff during the current crisis.

He said: “It is very much appreciated by all of us here at SASH Charity and Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

“As a local hospital charity, the support of the racing community, and organisations and individuals of national and international standing is something we are very grateful for. Thank you from all of us.”

All-Weather champions come together to support NHS charity
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