Backing for the first ever varsity flat race between students from Oxford and Cambridge to be run at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile next week, has come from the son-in-law of the last winner of such an event, a point to point back in 1939.
Robert Waley-Cohen, current chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, is donating a trophy that has historic links to the sporting rivalry between the two universities.
The huge silver gilt cup was awarded to the winner of the New College, Oxford point-to-point between riders from Cambridge and Oxford which Mr Waley-Cohen’s father-in-law, Lord Bearsted won.
After hearing about the Newmarket varsity event, Mr Waley-Cohen and his wife, Felicity, agreed to loan the trophy on the agreement that the race will be run as the Bearsted Perpetual Challenge Trophy.
The idea for the race came from Harry Beckett, son of Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Lord Grimthorpe, who said: “I’ve spent two years trying to get this race off the ground so I’m delighted to see it come to fruition.
“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.”
Five student riders, sporting either the light blue of Cambridge or dark blue of Oxford. have been training hard ahead of the mile contest which will be run on Dubai Future Champions’ Day on Friday October 17.
“Dick Bearsted would be delighted that this trophy will once again be competed for after a gap of 75 years,” said Mr Waley-Cohen. “The race at Newmarket between Oxford and Cambridge is absolutely the appropriate race,”