Rachael Blackmore On Fundraising Target With Betfair

Betfair ambassador Rachael Blackmore’s Serial Winners Fund drawing to a close at Aintree’s Grand National meeting with £250,000 target in sight

With demand for services of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) as high as it has ever been, it is fitting that Betfair’s ‘Serial Winners Fund’ draws to a close, and the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the IJF both come to pass this Saturday, Grand National day.

Betfair launched its one-of-a-kind charity initiative to benefit both the Injured Jockey Fund and the Irish Injured Jockeys on Betfair Chase Day last November.

They kicked-off the fund with an initial £100,000 donation and add a further £5,000 (£10k for per Cheltenham winner) every time Rachael Blackmore rides a winner. The fund currently stands at £205,000.

Top female jockey Rachael Blackmore has worked closely with Betfair to raise funds for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

The Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) was founded in 1964 following the devastating accidents to Tim Brookshaw and then Paddy Farrell in the 1964 Grand National. Both falls resulted in career ending injuries. 

Since then, the Fund has helped thousands of jockeys and their families and has paid out more than £22m in grants and charitable expenditure of £75m. The Fund has annual running costs of circa £5m.

Grand National-winning jockey and Betfair ambassador Blackmore said:  “The Serial Winners Fund is such a generous initiative run by Betfair throughout the season in support of the Injured Jockeys Fund in Ireland and UK, it’s one that I am very proud to have been a part of.

“This really is a substantial donation and will support the vital work they carry out helping jockeys in all areas of their lives.” 

Talking about the IJF and its early iteration, Steve Brookshaw, nephew of Tim Brookshaw and trainer of 1997 Grand National winner, Lord Gyllene added: ‘’I remember coming home from school one day and my parents telling me that uncle Tim had had a serious fall at Aintree.

“A while later I went with my dad to see him in Aintree hospital. He had a rope with handles above his bed so that he could lift himself up.

“Later he moved to Oswestry hospital. When he came home in a wheelchair to a house with steps he would jump them and was always doing wheelies!

“I used to visit him at home quite a lot as his farm and ours were adjoining so we only lived about a mile apart.

Rachael Blackmore, who is a regular jockey at the Downpatrick races, was the first lady rider to win the Grand National at Aintree. She has backed Betfair supporting the Injured Jockeys’ Fund in Ireland and the UK and is on target to reach £250,000.

“One day I was with him when the phone rang and it was John Lawrence, later Lord Oaksey, with the idea of setting up a fund to be known as the Farrell/Brookshaw fund.

“Paddy Farrell had also had a life changing accident at a similar time.

“Uncle Tim was happy for this but insisted that the bulk of the money raised should go to Paddy as he had a farm to support him but Paddy didn’t have another income.

“I remember in the early days when he came home that he drove his Jag working the pedals with big cigar boxes often taking us kids out somewhere he did have a disabled car through the fund later on.

“After a while he got one of his staff, Mick Langford, to put a rope over a metal girder in the cow shed so that he could pull himself up to get on the pony to prove that he could ride again.

“There was a picture at Aintree of him jumping a pony which all the jockeys signed.

“Later on we regularly used to meet his string of race horses as we were riding our point-to-pointers out. I remember him falling off one day on the road, so I got off my horse, legged him back on and off he went.

“After he died, Zena, my wife, and I bought his farm and trained point-to-pointers from there before moving to Shrewsbury where we were lucky enough to train Lord Gyllene, ridden at home by Zena, to win the 1997 Grand National (the ‘Monday National’).

“After the race the trainer, Jimmy Fitzgerald, who used to be a jockey with uncle Tim, came up to me and said that’s for Tim and I agreed.”

Lisa Hancock, CEO, Injured Jockeys Fund said: “The IJF has annual running costs of circa £5million and receives no contributions from riding fees or regular industry grants.

“We are very grateful for the many fundraising initiatives and donations we receive each year.

“The Serial Winners Fund is a brilliant initiative and perfect example of how the industry works to support those in need.

“We are very grateful to Betfair for their sizeable donation that will help the IJF provide the wide range of help and services to those in need”.

Lady Rachel Oaksey, Vice Patron, Injured Jockeys Fund, added:  “I am so proud of the achievements of the IJF and how far it has come over the years since John (Lord Oaksey) and others started the Fund.

“The very many people’s lives who we have been able to help in that time is testament to the support of the racing community and those who work tirelessly to help them.

“In our 60th Anniversary year the demand for our help is as high now as it has ever been.

“We are very grateful to Betfair for their generous support through the Serial Winners Fund which helps contribute significantly to our high running costs.”

Courtesy of Betfair.