Tag Archive for: Craig Lidster

Graham Lee ‘humbled’ by racing club initiative

On the 20th anniversary of Graham Lee winning the Grand National on Amberleigh House, a new racing club was launched to help raise money for the jockey after he suffered life-changing injuries in a fall at Newcastle in November.

The 48-year-old had a long and distinguished career in the saddle – under both codes. As well as winning the Grand National, he completed the unique double of riding the Gold Cup winner at Royal Ascot, via Trip To Paris.

The Graham Lee Racing Club has been set up by the Good Racing Company, founded by Phil Hawthorne, who established a similar venture for former rugby league player Rob Burrow.

They have purchased a two-year-old filly called We’ve Got This, in reference to a message Lee’s wife Becky posted on social media after the accident.

Lee’s daughter Amy and son Robbie have been at the forefront of the fundraising, with the latter designing the club’s logo, featured around Lee’s favourite number 17, also the number Amberleigh House wore at Aintree and the cost, £17, to join the venture, while Amy set up the initial Just Giving page.

Graham Lee with son Robbie, wife Becky and daughter Amy in hospital
Graham Lee with son Robbie, wife Becky and daughter Amy in hospital (Louise Pollard)

She said: “It’s so nice that something so positive comes out of something so awful. I love meeting people who know dad, everyone has their really cool stories and everyone has been wanting to help so much. It’s nice to create something positive.

“When we set up a Just Giving page for dad, the target was £100, last week it hit £200,000 – which is crazy. I never expected that.

“I’ve always said to dad every time he has a negative thought, there’s a donation to show him he needs to keep going, there are so many people behind him.

“When he’s had his down days, we’ve sat there and we’ve read all the lovely messages and it always puts a smile on our faces.

“We’ve had so much support and the McCoys have been like a second family to us – the night it happened AP picked me up, as I live near him, and he brought me up home.”

She went on: “Dad is just dad to me. I never really clicked how incredible he was. I’ve always thought the world of him but another jockey said to me ‘he’s like God, he’s who everyone wants to be like’. It’s so nice to hear something like that.

“I wish that I could be half the person. I’m a performer, I’m studying musical theatre, and to have that competitive mindset to be a winner, to be a champion, is admirable.

“While he was a jockey, it was onto the next thing. When he won the National, he was just thinking ‘I need to go to Hexham tomorrow’, he never got to celebrate it really, but since his accident, he’s really reflected and we’ve pulled out the old photos and old videos.

“When his friends and fellow jockeys come and see him, they reflect on races from years ago and his memory is insanely sharp. I think it’s starting to click that ‘actually, I think I was all right. I don’t think I did too bad a job’.

“So many people have come to see him or got in touch with a message, it’s been so nice and really kept dad going.

“The world goes on but for us four, we’re still at November 11, time’s just stopped since then. Everyone has been carrying on, as they should. But it’s nice that people are still caring at this point, five months down the line. They are still showing up, ringing, messaging.”

Club ambassador Adele Mulrennan with Paul Hanagan on the left with trainer Craig Lidster and Good Racing Company founder Phil Hawthorne on the right of William Pyle with We've Got This
Club ambassador Adele Mulrennan with Paul Hanagan on the left with trainer Craig Lidster and Good Racing Company founder Phil Hawthorne on the right of William Pyle with We’ve Got This (Louise Pollard)

Lee’s former weighing room colleague and dual champion jockey Paul Hanagan is now assistant trainer to Craig Lidster, who has been entrusted with looking after We’ve Got This.

“It’s an honour to be involved in this, Graham’s family are closely involved, Steve and Wendy Burdett, who own Eboracum Stables, have given us the horse, so a lot of thanks go to them,” said Hanagan.

“The filly is by Invincible Army, she’s been doing everything right and I’ve sat on her myself. She’s flourished these last few months and we’re really looking forward to the season.

“Obviously, I’ve had a few sleepless nights hoping I’ve picked a good one! Hopefully she’ll be running in the next five to six weeks.

“Graham has made a huge contribution to racing all through his career and I’d love to give something back.”

Lee himself said: “I’m really humbled that a fundraising racing club has been set up in my honour, and that Paul Hanagan has chosen the horse for me. I’ve been shown videos of the horse and she looks very promising. No pressure Paul, but I hope you’ve picked a winner!

“I’ve seen what the Good Racing Company has achieved for Rob Burrow and how it’s united the racing community. I have high hopes that this new racing club achieves the same success with We’ve Got This, and my family and I look forward to following the excitement and being part of this new community.”

Lidster, whose yard is flourishing, said: “As you can see, she’s a nice, big filly, so hopefully we might get to York at some point.

“I don’t want to put her on a pedestal but she’s going the right way, she’s got a great attitude, she loves her work and we’re pleased with her.

“She has size and scope about her, so we’ll be choosing the right track for her; galloping tracks like York and Doncaster.

“This is a special cause. Family is family, whether that is your own or the racing industry – and that is how we look at Graham and anyone else in this sport, we all look to help each other when these things happen.”

More information can be found at: https://thegoodracing.co/

Macarone on a mission for Rob Burrow Racing Club at Thirsk

Yorkshire handler Craig Lidster admits he has been humbled by the chance to train Macarone for the Rob Burrow Racing Club as he sets his sights on a fitting Pontefract date later this month.

Burrow’s battle with motor neurone disease has touched the hearts of the nation and has also left a lasting impression on the Easingwold-based handler, who has relished the opportunity to train for the racing club that raises money for charity in the former England and Leeds Rhinos star’s name.

Lidster has recorded 30 winners so far in his fledgling training career, but none meant as much to him as Macarone’s maiden triumph at Beverley last month, which came on his first start in the Rob Burrow Racing Club colours.

And although injuring his back on the gallops a day before Macarone broke his duck, Lidster was trackside to witness the son of Havana Grey open his account in the hands of Paul Hanagan, who not long afterwards announced his retirement from the saddle.

Training for Rob Burrow has been humbling for Yorkshire handler Craig Lidster
Training for Rob Burrow has been humbling for Yorkshire handler Craig Lidster (Mike Egerton/PA)

He said: “We were thrilled to bits to get that win at Beverley and it was special as it was one of Paul’s last rides.

“It’s an honour to train for Rob. People asked me before Macarone won what was the pinnacle of my training career and I would say watching Julie Camacho and Steve Brown win Group Ones with Shaquille because they are very good friends of mine.

“But to go and top that with Macarone winning for the Rob Burrow Racing Club was a massive pleasure and humbling.

“I had broken my back the day before (in an accident on the gallops) and people were saying ‘what are you doing here?’. But when you turn around and see people in a worse situation than you, there was no way I was going to miss that in a million years.”

Having now got off the mark, Macarone will now attempt to climb the ratings at Thirsk in a bid to secure his place in a Pontefract nursery later this month.

It would be an appropriate climax to the youngster’s juvenile campaign with the race taking place in Burrow’s home town and at the closest racecourse to Leeds where he made his name in the Rhinos’ jersey.

“He is going to go to Thirsk on Monday,” continued Lidster.

“The main target is Pontefract on September 28 which is Rob’s home track so we would like to get Macarone to Rob’s home turf. The race is a 0-78 so we would like to come up the weights a bit to make sure we get in there.

“He’s a nice horse and a nice prospect going forward and with Rob Burrow taking him on, both myself and Steve (Burdett, the horse’s previous owner) were really keen to help Rob in any way we can.

“It’s a massive cause for such a lovely fella and we just couldn’t turn down helping.”

Land Lover revved up for Woodcote with Demuro in the saddle

Craig Lidster has called on the services of Arc-winning rider Cristian Demuro as Land Lover forms part of a three-pronged Nick Bradley Racing assault on the British EBF 40th Anniversary Woodcote Stakes.

Demuro – who is Italian but primarily rides in France – is making the trip to Epsom to partner Heartache Tonight for David Menuisier in the Betfred Oaks and will get the chance for a sighter of the Surrey Downs aboard Lidster’s Land Force colt, who caught the eye when fourth in a competitive maiden at York on debut.

Land Lover now steps up in trip to six furlongs – a distance the Yorkshire handler believes will suit his charge – as he joins Amy Murphy’s Ripon runner-up Fifty Grand Slater and Kevin Philippart De Foy’s Maymay representing the Nick Bradley Racing syndicate that won this contest with Oscula two years ago.

“He ran a good race at York in what looked a nice novice,” said Lidster.

“Take nothing away from him, but he wasn’t as fit as I would have liked that day and he has come on from that run. We’re pretty sweet on him.

“It’s giving the owners a nice day out and what will be will be, but I think six furlongs will suit. He was never a five-furlong horse in our eyes, but York is just down the road and he needed the run. So we put him in that nice race to see what would happen and to be fair to him, he came up trumps and finished a nice fourth.

Jockey Cristian Demuro, here winning at Royal Ascot, will be aboard Land Lover
Jockey Cristian Demuro, here winning at Royal Ascot, will be aboard Land Lover (David Davies/PA)

“That paved the way for thinking this horse could be above average and Nick Bradley thought while everyone is thinking of Ascot why don’t we think Woodcote.”

On the booking of Demuro he added: “Nick said he rides a lot for him in France and was coming over for the meeting and asked if he could book him. Sam James has had to reroute up to Carlisle otherwise it would have been his ride.”

It could prove to be a red-letter weekend for Lidster if his venture south proves successful and 24 hours after Land Lover’s run in the Woodcote, he could saddle Dickieburd in the inaugural Aston Martin 3YO “Dash'” Handicap.

A maximum of 14 will go to post for the five-furlong contest and Lidster is left sweating ahead of declarations with his three-year-old on the cusp of making the final line-up.

“I think it’s the best decision all year to put in a race like that and we’ve put our apprentice on to take the 7lb off,” he continued.

“He’s in great order at home and we’re going there with the hope that we might get in.

“If we do we’ll need the luck of the draw, but he’s a very fast horse and a front-runner and we know Epsom is the fastest five furlongs in the world and a front-runners track so hopefully it will play to his strengths a little bit.”