Local farrier to contest world’s oldest surviving horse race

Ian Gault.
Ian Gault.

A Ballyclare man will be taking part in a prestigious horse race this week.

Ian Gault will be going head-to-head with 15 other amateur jockeys in the 2017 running of the Newmarket Town Plate, the world’s oldest surviving horse race, which kicks off the three-day Moët & Chandon 2017 July Festival at Newmarket’s Adnams July Course on Thursday, July 13.

Ian first rode in the 2016 Town Plate and cannot wait to ride in the 2017 renewal to try and improve on his placing.

A farrier in Co Antrim, Ian has been involved in the Thoroughbred industry for over 40 years. He bred the Grade 1 horse, Chaser Kingscliff and has ridden in Point-to-Points and Irish National Hunt Flat Races.

He has also vented up to FEI* level and regularly competes in dressage and show-jumping ex-racehorses. Definitely one that might be heavy competition for past Town Plate winners.

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.

Run on part of the same track as the original race in which King Charles II rode 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 jockey’s 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. Sheikh Fahad Al Thani took home the winning title last year, and he’s back for 2017 to try and triumph for a second consecutive year.