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Racing's runners and riders hoping to stay the trip

Robert Cowell: three stone lighter as he prepares for his second London Marathon
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Racing will be strongly represented on Sunday when a number of figures take to the capital's streets to run the Virgin Money London Marathon.

They aim to raise tens of thousands of pounds for good causes as they attempt to complete the 26.2 mile course from Blackheath to the Mall. Here are some of the hopefuls.


Smith defying his doctors

Hunscote Stud owner Steven Smith, who was told he would never walk again after he broke his spine seven years ago, will continue to defy the odds by attempting to walk the course.

Smith, 57, was the victim of a violent burglary at his holiday home in the south of France when armed men broke into his property. To escape them, he jumped out of a first floor window and fell into a ravine.

Despite doctors' diagnosis he is able to walk with the aid of a stick, while still experiencing a host of complications, and hopes to complete the race in 14 hours.

Smith, who is trying to raise £250,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, said: "After my injury in 2011 my legs often feel extremely heavy – they feel like they are made of lead. I think I’ve only got one marathon in me and I don’t want to run out of steam too early!”

He can be sponsored by clicking here.


Blowes bids to make record bids

Among the wackier runners will be Ben Blowes, who will attempt to get in the Guinness Book of Records by running the fastest marathon carrying a household appliance.

Blowes, who lives in Newmarket and a member of a nine-strong team put together by Racing Welfare, has to beat six hours carrying a 25kg appliance.

He said: “I'm not directly involved in racing, but living in Newmarket I have lots of friends involved in the industry and it's great to support a charity that can give something back.”

Two of the charity’s runners are racecourse groundsmen, with Fontwell's Darrin Lenharth and Sam Butler Spelzini from Huntingdon taking up the challenge.

Lenharth, who took up running to lose weight, said: “Two years ago I made the conscious decision to change my lifestyle. I was 16 stone and in fear of my health – I now weigh nine and a half stone. I now have the running bug and the marathon was on my 'bucket list'.

Also running for Racing Welfare are Rob Hezel, chief executive of the Racing Foundation, Fergal O'Brien's head lad Kevin Brown and Megan Hurst, who is head girl to Robin Dickin.

The team also includes Jane Petrucci, a director at Body Plan Fitness in Fordham, just outside of Newmarket, which has a fundraising target of £29,000, of which £24,000 has so far been raised.


Anderson leads Godolphin charge

Bidding to keep Godolphin's flying form going is managing director Hugh Anderson, who has rekindled his love for running and hopes to complete in close to four hours. 

"I'm very excited about it," said Anderson, 49, who did his first marathon in 20 years in Dubai in January.

He added: "Godolphin have always been big supporters of Racing Welfare, and as I'm about to say goodbye to my forties, I wanted to do a marathon. It's all part of a midlife crisis probably and over the last year I've done quite a bit to get quite fit. I'm hopeful of finishing around four hours with a smile on my face.

"One of the most enjoyable spin-offs of doing this training is how generous people have been in sponsoring for Racing Welfare, I'm just edging towards £15,000 which is heartwarming."

Anyone wishing to support Anderson can do so by clicking here

Also in the Godolphin blue are Denys Olefir, an elite athlete bidding for under two and a half hours, and Alex Cairns, going for under three, who both work for Charlie Appleby in Newmarket.    

Qatar Racing is represented through manager David Redvers, who aims to stop the clock at under 3hr 10m for the John Paul II Foundation For Sport. He can be sponsored by clicking here.


Number ten for Bozza

John Bozza, the new CEO of RaceTech, is running the London Marathon in support of the Injured Jockeys Fund. It will be his tenth marathon which he will follow up with his 11th in the Chester Marathon in October.

Bozza has completed London eight times previously with a best time of 3 hours and 44 minutes set in 2015 and can be sponsored by clicking here.


Gill to make it number nine

Arena Racing Company will be represented by a team led by director of external affairs Susannah Gill, who is running the race for the ninth year in succession.

Also running is Sarah Bell, who works at Chepstow and is the wife of Phil Bell. She is running for Parkinson’s UK and to sponsor her clicking here.  

Stephen Higgins, Arc's racing and property director, is also competing for the first time and is stepping up in trip having completed numerous ten mile runs and half marathons.

Much more in the mould of Gill, as a seasoned road pounder, is Great British Racing chief executive Rod Street, who once again faces the starter.


Robert Mabbett: 'I'm going to enjoy the year ahead,' says the new Betting Shop Manager of the Year

Mabbett making his debut

Reigning Betting Shop Manager of the Year Rob Mabbett will be running his first marathon to raise funds for the mental health charity Mind.

Mabbett, who took part in the Great North Run last year, is aiming to beat a time of four hours 20 minutes. His employers Betfred have promised to double their donation if he beats that time, while the Racing Post has also sponsored Mabbett.

Anyone wanting to support Mabbett's efforts can do so here


Equal challenge, different scenery

Meanwhile Olivia Smith will be heading in the opposite direction as she continues her bid to run the equivalent of nine marathons in ten days in Ireland.

Smith, 23, daughter of bookmaker Andy Smith and an ambassador for Ditcheat Thoroughbreds, has already run the London Marathon three times so instead took on the challenge of running from her home in Bristol to Punchestown.

"I am doing the structure of a marathon but following my own journey," said Smith, who caught the ferry from Pembroke Dock in Wales to Rosslare on Saturday. "I left on April 17 and arrive on April 27. I am running from Rosslare to Wexford on Sunday where I am going to have some physio."

Smith is running for the Injured Jockeys Fund in Britain and Ireland having already raised money from a Cheltenham preview night. "The amount of support I have had has been incredible."


Cowell looking fit and well

Despite vowing "never again" after completing his first London Marathon in 2014, Newmarket trainer Robert Cowell heads to post on Sunday in peak condition, having shed three stone during his training.

Famed for his handling of sprinters, Cowell admits he was too exuberant in the early stages of the race three years ago and will be running to get the trip this time around. 

"The ambition is to start with a smile on my face and end with a smile on my face," said Cowell. "I've done a fair bit of training, have done myself the world of good and feel in good shape.

"The last eight or nine miles was excruciating last time but myself and Andrew Balding went off a bit quick and didn't stay the trip at all. I did it in 4hrs 36min and if I was to do it around the same time, that would be fantastic."

Running alongside sister-in-law Suzannah Roach, avid rugby fan Cowell has already raised close to £4,000 for the RFU Injured Players Foundation and can be supported here.


We'll all be cheering on Post man Cobb

The Racing Post's associate editor John Cobb is hoping to stay the trip on his first attempt as he raises funds for St Mungo's, the charity for the homeless that provides a bed and support to more than 2,600 people every night.    

Already well on his way to £6,000, Cobb said: "I've had lots of helpful suggestions about how I could improve my performance but not even Robbie Power could get me to quicken in a finish and a a better incentive is the cause I'm running for."

He can be supported by clicking here.

One of the most enjoyable spin-offs of doing this training is how generous people have been in sponsoring. I'm edging towards £15,000
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