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Sports Then and Now

What is the Grand National Charity Bet?

Posted on February 13, 2018 by Barrie Smith

grandnat1With the big day just around the corner, there’s going to be a lot of punters looking to get some money involved with Grand National 2018 betting. Of course, if you’re looking to make your money back, it couldn’t hurt to check out the Betfair Grand National tips to see who the favourite is. Of course, not all bets made at the Grand National are solely for the sake of winning money. Some of the bets are placed with the intention of raising money for charity. One specific, and very appropriate, charity: the Injured Jockey’s Fund.

The Injured Jockey’s Fund first appeared in the 1960’s under the influence of John Oaksey. Well, his full name was John Geoffrey Tristram Lawrence, 4th Baron Trevethin and 2nd Baron Oaksey, but for obvious reasons he went by John Oaksey. Oaksey came from nobility but became a jockey because he really enjoyed riding horses and was encouraged in doing what he loved by his father. Oaksey also worked as the racing correspondent for the Daily Telegraph which meant he could report on his races first hand, including a memorable instance in 1963 where he reported directly on what was happening in a race that he lost by barely a quarter of a length. This reporting is still hailed by some as one of the finest pieces of sports writing in the world.

In 1963 another jockey, Tim Brookshaw, had a terrible fall at Aintree that broke the neck of the horse he was riding and left Brookshaw himself paralysed. As if that wasn’t enough, just a few months later there was another accident at Aintree which broke the back of P.A Farrell, a father of four, and lead to the creation of the Brookshadw Farrell fund to try and help the two jockeys survive. The fund was initially set up by Mr. C Nicholson, a racehorse owner, Wing Commander Peter Vaux and Mr. Edward Courage, the owner of the horse that had been involved in the accident that broke Farrell’s back. It wasn’t long during the collections process that John Oaksey became involved and the fund soon made enough to help both jockeys. Both Farrell and Brookshaw though were hopeful that support could be given to other injured jockeys and this lead to the creation of the Injured National Hunt Jockey’s Fund which was soon shortened to Injured Jockey’s Fund. Oaksey became its president and figurehead, a large public face for the charity as it worked to help those in need.

The charity is still going strong today and the Grand National’s Charity Bet is one of these: essentially, the bet is made by a willing industry personality with the proceeds going towards the charity. Last year the bets were largely to the tune of £25-£50 so even if the horses all lost, the charity would get a sizeable portion of the money sent their way. If you’re interested in sponsoring the charity, you can check out their website here.

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