RACING: Riders announced for the St Patrick's Day Charity Derby at Cheltenham

LOCAL riders are well represented among the lucky dozen who have earned places to ride in next year's St Patrick's Derby, which takes place during The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on Thursday, March 13.

It is the fifth renewal of the charity race, which has raised more than £800,000 so far for Cancer Research UK.

Among the riders is Lucy Bridgwater, 44, wife of Stow trainer David, whose horse The Giant Bolster has been placed in the last two runnings of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Back in 2011, the yard's head girl, Kelly Walsh, died from cancer and Lucy's ride in the race will be dedicated to Kelly.

Another rider with strong connections to a Gloucestershire stable is 26-year-old Co Cork-based student Tom O'Neill, who rides out in the summer at the Jackdaws Castle base of his uncle, Jonjo O'Neill.

Of course, Jonjo is well known for coming through his battle with cancer.

Another competitor is Michelle Turner, 49, from Swindon, a main board director of Cheltenham race sponsors Pertemps who has ridden most of her life.

Alexia Buckwell, 42 this week, is also in the final line-up. She comes from Cheltenham and is account manager and director of Country to Country Property Group.

She was diagnosed with primary lymphoedema in her left leg after the birth of her first child and would like to raise more awareness of the condition.

Among the other riders are Emma Cook, 24, who works as a regional senior sales co-ordinator at Cheltenham racecourse, along with C4 Racing, BBC and Racing UK presenter Rishi Persad.

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