Britain’s top red brick university students will be swapping their Boat Race sculls for stirrups when they take part in the first ever Varsity flat race at the Rowley Mile course in Newmarket in October.
Sporting competition between Oxford and Cambridge is legendary and now Newmarket aims to place that competitiveness firmly on its own historic map of horse racing.
Riders from each university will don their distinctive colours and race the eight furlongs on Dubai Future Champions Day on October 17.
The Oxbridge race will be the last on a prestigious card of seven top class races.
Seven riders from each university are now in training at the British Racing School in the town and Oaksey House in Lambourn.
The innovative event is part of a major plan to encourage more interest in horse racing among students and younger adults.
Students with ID will be allowed into the Dubai day for free and also at the following day’s QIPCO British Champions meeting at Ascot.
Harry Beckett, who conceived the idea, said: “I sincerely hope this is just the start of a real connection between racecourses and students as there is a real need for more sustainable investment.”
Oli Lawrence captain of the Cambridge team, said: “I am honoured to be captaining the first ever horse racing team for Cambridge - it’s a brilliant addition to the existing varsity sporting competitions and one that hopefully will be part of history for years to come.”
Lizzi Hamilton, Oxford’s captain, said “It’s a superb initiative. Rivalry between the two universities goes back so many centuries and we cannot wait to compete against Cambride on the racecourse.”