Ahead of QIPCO British Champions Day on Saturday 20 October, World and European 4x100m relay Champion Adam Gemili, England and Harlequins rugby player Danny Care, former Olympic cyclist turned jockey Victoria Pendleton and star jockey Oisin Murphy, attempted to Race A Champion by taking on one of the world’s best racehorses over a 10 metre sprint.
The activity took place at Exchange Square Broadgate in central London on Thursday 20 September and saw both the athletes and members of the public run alongside an interactive wall attempting to keep up with lights set to the speed of Battaash, one of the star horses entered to run on QIPCO British Champions Day, breaking from the starting stalls. By the end of the 10m participants were able to see how their time compared to some of the horses set to run on QIPCO British Champions Day, the richest raceday in Great Britain and the finale to the European flat racing season.
Battaash, World’s top rated equine sprinter - 1.71s
Adam Gemili, World and European 4x100m relay Champion - 1.47s
Danny Care, England and Harlequins rugby player - 1.88s
Victoria Pendleton, Olympic Cycling Champion - 1.93s
Oisin Murphy, Qatar Racing’s retained jockey - 2.03s
Battaash is rated the best sprint horse in the world and has an entry for the £600,000 QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 20 October. Beating his calculated speed of 1.71 seconds over 10 metres was a tough challenge to take on for the British sports stars.
QIPCO British Champions Day ambassador and World and European 4x 100m relay Champion Adam Gemili said, “I really enjoy going to the races and doing the 10m sprints today gave me a real sense of just how quick and powerful racehorses are. I’m delighted to beat Battaash’s time but I’m not carrying a jockey or breaking out of the stalls in race. For a half ton horse like Battaash to be able to cover ten metres from a standing start in 1.71seconds is pretty incredible and I’ve even more respect for the jockeys for staying on board during that acceleration. I love going to QIPCO British Champions Day, and taking on Battaash today will make me appreciate even more what amazing athletes racehorses are at this year’s event.”
Double Olympic Champion cyclist Victoria Pendleton famously switched saddles and rode at the Cheltenham Festival said, “I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge, and as a former track cycling sprinter I thought I might have a bit of explosive speed to have a chance against some of the others but the time just goes so quickly! Having trained to be a jockey myself I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with lots of amazing racehorses so I know how much power they generate. They are incredible creatures but I am normally sitting on one rather than trying to race against one on foot! Hopefully today’s activity shows everyone how powerful they are.”
England and Harlequins rugby player Danny Care said, “I never really appreciated how fast these champion horses went until I had to race against one! In rugby it’s all about power and speed and I can’t imagine what it takes for a jockey in terms of agility and strength to stay on board when they’re travelling so quickly.”
Jockey Oisin Murphy, who is enjoying a fabulous season having won four QIPCO British Champions Series races already this year, said, “I think my time demonstrates why I ride the horses and don’t actually sprint myself. As a jockey you get used to travelling on board a horse at such speed but it was really interesting to look at it from a different point of view and see how some of Britain’s top sports stars compared.”
Naomi Lawson, Head of PR for British Champions Series said, “It’s been really exciting for us to put on a challenge like this ahead of QIPCO British Champions Day and it’s been fantastic to have so many incredible British athletes, as well as members of the public get involved. We know that over the course of a race it would be impossible for a human to beat a horse but we thought over 10m some might have a chance. It’s been a really fun way of showcasing just how incredibly powerful and athletic the racehorses heading to this year’s QIPCO British Champions Day are, and we can’t wait to see them all racing on the day for the record-breaking £4.35 million in prize money on offer.”
The Race A Champion challenge will also be on course for racegoers to have a go at on QIPCO British Champions Day itself at Ascot on Saturday 20 October. Now in its eighth year the day is the finale to the European Flat racing season and Britain’s richest raceday. It will see some of the world’s best horses and jockeys compete for a record breaking £4.35 million purse and be crowned kings and queens of the turf.
As well as unbeatable action on the track, Britain’s Ultimate raceday also features a glitzy opening ceremony, the crowning of the Stobart Champion Flat Jockey and a spectacular after party featuring pop stars Ella Eyre and Jax Jones, with accompanied under 18s attending for free.
QIPCO British Champions Day takes place at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday 20 October. For tickets go to britishchampionsday.com.