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Forget the Boat Race - Oxford and Cambridge students to compete in horseracing event in October

12th August 2014

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If we needed any more evidence that they just do things differently at Oxbridge, we’ve got it right here: the country’s two most illustrious universities are about to go head to head, not on the football or rugby pitch, but on the horseracing track.

Yes, move over football, rugby and rowing – the newest competition between our two top universities is between their student jockeys, not their oarsmen.

This seems like a very, very Oxbridge thing to happen, in our opinion. After all, as The National Student’s very own Editor pointed out after this news landed on our desks, the only race that our uni lives seemed to consist of was seeing who could hurtle down the hill and into Bargain Booze in their shopping trolley the fastest.

Well, we exaggerate. But you know, still. The fact that there are enough amateur jockeys at Oxbridge to make this a real thing is a little bit mind-blowing to us.

And when is this esteemed celebration of the country’s most talented equestrian, erm, talent going to take place?

Well, it’s all going down at Newmarket’s (where else?) Rowley Mile course, on Dubai Future Champions Day (no, us neither...) on 17th October.

Five riders from each university will be donning the blues at Newmarket, to see which institution can boast the best horseback skill. Apparently, they’re spending the summer training at the British Horse Racing School... which sounds like a fairly intense way to spend August, if you want our opinion.

But then, eight furlongs is a long way (we think – we actually have no idea how long a furlong is) and this is what the chosen ones will have to prepare for when they hit the racing track come October.

It was student Harry Beckett that first had the idea to see which Oxbridge students would triumph in the horseracing stakes, and he’s very excited about it finally coming to fruition – he’s been trying to get it off the ground for the best part of two years.

Harry says: “I sincerely hope that this is just the start of a real connection between racecourses and students, as there is a real need for more sustainable investment. There are so many people I would like to thank for making this happen and fingers-crossed it will become an annual event, enabling riders to qualify for a Blue in future years.”

Meanwhile Oli Lawrence, captain of the Cambridge team, who is studying Earth Sciences at Gonville and Caius College, added that he is “honoured to be captaining the first ever horse racing team for Cambridge – it’s brilliant addition to the existing varsity sporting competitions and one that hopefully will be part of history for years to come. I hope all my fellow students get behind us and come along to support this event."

Lizzy Hamilton, captain of the Oxford team (Chemistry, Christ Church) said: “I cannot wait to take part in the Varsity horse race – it’s a superb initiative. Rivalry between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge goes back so many centuries and we cannot wait to compete against Cambridge on the racecourse."

Obviously, there’s also that other, as yet more famous, niche sporting event that goes on between Oxford and Cambridge every year at the beginning of our Great British Summer. The Boat Race has been going for almost 200 years, after Oxford and Cambridge students first took to the Thames and caused champagne swilling, blazer-led consternation in Putney (probably) in 1829.

Will the horse race pass into the same realm of tradition? We can only wait and see. Until then, we’ll be at the racecourse, hoping for a windfall... maybe.

Students will be allowed in for free on Dubai Future Champions Day held at Newmarket and at the following day’s QIPCO British Champions Day meeting at Ascot (18th October 2014).

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