Charities to benefit from racing’s generosity

Rainbow Flag - The Goodness Project colours

All too often we hear rumours of shady business and dodgy betting scams in the racing business, so it’s good to be able to put on record actions of precisely the opposite nature. Step forward three admittedly well off racehorse owners who in their various ways are supporting charities both within and beyond racing itself.

The first of these benefactors is Graham Wylie, who in Prince de Beauchene and On His Own has two of the leading fancies for this year's Grand National. Whilst both will run in his black and beige colours, one of them will be seeking to pick up prize-money for the Children's Heart Unit Fund (http://www.chuf.org.uk/).

Wylie has chosen this charity as one of his twin daughters, Kiera, has had three life-saving operations at the Unit in Newcastle's Freeman Hospital since she was born just over two years ago. Local businessman and major investor in the Newcastle Falcons rugby team Semore Kurdi will lease one of the horses for the day, but after both had impressive victories in Ireland recently, he has yet to decide which one.

Wylie said, "I will leave it up to Semore to decide. He was keen on On His Own (Thyestes Chase winner), and then after Saturday, he likes the look of Prince de Beauchene (Bobbyjo Chase). It is obviously a charity very close to my heart and there are a number of events going on to try and raise money for the Unit. It would be a fairytale if the chosen horse could go and win the Grand National, but let's just hope both horses get there in good form."

The second of our good Samaritans is Merseyside entrepreneur Dr Marwan Koukash, who has recently become a director of the Racing Welfare charity (http://www.racingwelfare.co.uk/). He has pledged a percentage of his winnings from Group races and heritage handicaps to the charity and is encouraging other owners to do the same. Koukash is also looking for a corporate partner to put in at least £20,000 to the charity. For their donation they'll have an unnamed two-year-old colt by Zamindar for the coming season, which David Simcock will train.

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Koukash said, "When a horse wins a race, the owner gets the credit, whereas people tend to forget the person who got a horse to the races in the first place. It's the stud and stable staff who do all the hard work, from the horse being foaled to winning a race. I'm just the one who signs the cheques, but I have seen at first hand the work Racing Welfare does for staff who fall on hard times and I think people who are able to should do more to help."

Finally, professional gambler and Attheraces pundit Andy Gibson has set up a charity called The Goodness Project, which will support the Double Joy Orphanage in Western Kenya (http://www.double-joy.org.uk/). He’s named the project after a horse called Goodness, a former flat runner for Sir Michael Stoute, that he and trainer David O’Meara bought during the winter for £6,000.

Gibson says that he has wanted to do something to support African charities for several months, and that when he saw the four-year old Cadeaux Genereux gelding was available it so well named he simply had to buy it.

He said, "I've been involved in community projects in the past but have devoted all my time to gambling over the last few years. But I'm sure I have more to offer than just predicting which horse will finish first on any particular day. I was first inspired by Tariq Jahan, who asked for calm the day after losing his son during the Birmingham riots last year - he was a great role model for anyone and certainly helped to inspire me. At that time the news was full of the terrible problems in the Horn of Africa and I thought if I bought a horse first and thought about the consequences afterwards it would force my hand into setting up the project."

Gibson described the colours he has designed for the horse to race in as "a memorable mess", but they feature the seven colours of the Rainbow Flag, which represents diversity. Any prize-money that Goodness wins will go straight to the charity, which provides education and a home for 90 children orphaned by AIDS.

He hopes that The Goodness Project will be one has considerable longevity, and that in future years other owners might donate one of their horses to run in the colours of the project for a 12 month period.

Let's wish the best of luck to all of them over the next year.

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1 reply
  1. Racecourse Bounty says:

    Dr Koukash should be using his winnings to clear his business debts. He cannot afford to be giving money away. Calling him a Samaritan is an absolute joke. He is one very shady and dodgy character in my opinion.

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