West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock, whose constituency includes Newmarket, has to be a strong supporter of racing. He showed his commitment to the cause in June when he and a small group of fellow Parliamentarians mounted an all night vigil to secure a precious back-bench MPP slot for his Offshore Gambling Bill.
The bill seeks to increase revenue for racing by taxing bookmaker operations on a “point of consumption” principle, so that on line operations run from offshore will not be able to avoid paying tax and Levy contributions. The bill will receive a second reading early in January 2013.
On Saturday, Hancock was at Newmarket for the race meeting, where he showed that his constituency was not the only safe seat he has. Hancock was riding in the Blue Square Cavalry Charge, a charity race that has raised almost £100,000 for Racing Welfare and the Household Cavalry Operational Charities Fund.
Over the last three months, 33-year-old Hancock has lost 2 stone, increased his fitness and learned how to control a racehorse. Michael Bell and John Gosden took on the job of training the new apprentice, and he rode Dick Doughtywiley from Gosden’s yard to beat off ten other jockeys and win the race itself.
Looking back on his achievement, Hancock said, “As I passed the favourite with the finish in sight, I looked up and could see the crowds on either side and the two rails stretching out to the finish line with just green grass in front. Then I worried someone would shoot past me, so I pushed with every ounce of strength I had left.”
No questions about a non-trier here then, as Hancock found himself scouring the record books to see if any other MP had ridden a winner. I can’t find any myself, but perhaps there’ll be a Geegeez reader who knows for certain.
One thing Hancock hadn’t practised, perhaps because he hadn’t expected to be in a position to try it out, was the Frankie Dettori flying dismount. He landed on his backside after trying it, but lost no kudos in a genuine sporting gesture that connected the MP even more closely with the key activity that defines his constituency.