Navan man Derek Jackson will be going head-to-head with 12 other amateur jockeys in the 349th running of the Newmarket Town Plate, the world’s oldest surviving horse race, at Newmarket’s Adnams July Course at 5.45pm on Saturday.
Jackson is an accountant and rides out twice a week as a hobby and to keep fit. He has ridden in the Newmarket Town Plate on six previous occasions, winning the race in 2007 and 2010 and this year, he is hoping for an elusive third victory.
Other riders taking part in the Newmarket Town Plate include a carer, programme manager, bookmaker and a driving instructor, to name a few.
For many years, the Newmarket Town Plate was seen as one of the most prestigious races in the land, now, riding in this race offers up a true piece of historical eccentricity for those who can take on the challenge.
The race, ridden only by true amateurs, is run over a three and a quarter mile course, on part of the same track as King Charles II would have ridden in the 1600s.
Much of the course the modern-day riders take on is only used for this single race each year, but ends on the same home straight as all races at Newmarket’s Adnams July Course, where racegoers wait in vast numbers to cheer on race leaders.
Winners not only take away the chance to claim their own piece of history, but they gain a jockeys prize of a Perpetual Challenge Plate, a photo frame, a voucher for Newmarket High Street clothing store, Golding and a box of Powters Celebrated Newmarket Sausages.
Riders flock from across the UK, and even across the world to take part in this historic race. In previous years the race has been won by an accountant, a neurosurgeon, and even a Sheikh.
Read the Meath Chronicle account of Derek's win in 2007 here