JP McManus joined an illustrious group of racing's owners, trainers and jockeys when he became the latest recipient of the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Award at last week's annual lunch. He follows a diverse set of previous winners, including the Queen and the Queen Mother, Lester Piggott and Dick Francis, Michael Dickinson, Dick Hern Vincent O'Brien.
The awards began in 1997, and two years later when the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Charitable Trust was set up, they became the major fundraising activity in support of six racing and animal charities. Since then the Trust has raised over Â£3 million to help their work.
The award comes in the form of a perpetual bronze of the former BBC commentatorâ€™s racing binoculars, and Oâ€™Sullevan himself was on hand to present it to McManus. Much of the money raised comes from an auction, which takes place after the lunch, and this year more than Â£250,000 was donated.
As is often the case, JP McManus was the major benefactor, paying Â£80,000 for breakfast and a round of golf with Lee Westwood. Cartoonist Peter Curling donated his sketch of the winner, "Cleaning out the Bookies", which raised Â£65,000. Multi-racehorse owner Andy Stewart shelled out Â£10,000 for lunch with Joanna Lumley, where he'll no doubt have a harder time than his horse Big Buck's did in winning Saturday's Sportingbet Long Distance Hurdle race at Newbury.
The charities to benefit from the work of the trust are:
* The Blue Cross: caring for retired racehorses
* The Brooke: providing veterinary care for working horses throughout the world
* Compassion in World Farming: campaigning to end the international trade in long-distance transport of farm animals and falls as slaughter
*World Horse Welfare: a long established charity investigating cases of animal abuse and re-homing them where necessary
*Racing Welfare: looking after injured stud and stable staff
*The Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre: retraining and re-homing former racehorses.
None of them receive any public money and are entirely dependent on donations and fundraising. Nicky McDonald, operations director of the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre effectively summed up the view of all these charities, saying, "there is always an urgent need (for) and we rely on donations from our supporters to enable us to continue our work. We are extremely grateful for the continued support and generosity of Sir Peter and his charitable trust".