Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Ambassador Georgia Connolly left for the United Kingdom on Sunday as her quest to become the first Australian woman to ride in the Magnolia Cup nears.
After months of training including passing a rigorous fitness and riding test, Georgia’s turn as an amateur jockey representing the VRC at the world-famous British racecourse, Goodwood, is just ten days away.
On arrival in the UK Georgia will travel to Surrey to meet with trainer George Baker, who has three thoroughbreds eligible for the Magnolia Cup, to find her perfect mount for the race.
She will then spend the next two weeks training for the annual charity race held on Ladies' Day, 1 August, during the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
In bespoke jockey silks designed by Greek fashion designer Mary Katrantzou, Georgia will compete against other high-profile women from the worlds of business, sport, fashion and the media including Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton, British model Rosie Tapner and Irish television personality Vogue Williams.
Goodwood, picture Liesl King
To prepare, she has called on the likes of fellow VRC Ambassador and Hall of Fame trainer Gai Waterhouse, Olympic eventer Amanda Ross, UK-born and Ballarat-based trainer Matt Cumani, Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockey coach Darren Gauci and Peninsula-based trainer Jason Warren to get her race ready.
“I’m so grateful to Jason Warren and his team who have let me ride out with them every week, and the wider racing community for their help and getting behind me on this ride of a lifetime,” Georgia said.
“I have learnt so much in the past three months, from being thrown in the deep end at Gai Waterhouse’s a few months ago to feeling much more in control at Matt Cumani’s a few days ago, I’ve enjoyed the challenge and I feel like I am as ready as I will ever be to take on the Goodwood straight!”
Englishman and now Ballarat-based trainer Matt said Georgia is well placed to take on the course.
“I’ve been following her journey to the Magnolia Cup and have found it quite interesting. It’s a race I know a little bit about, my sister (Francesca) has ridden in it and Goodwood is one of my favourite tracks in the world,” he said.
“It’s a complicated race, it’s a lot of fun to watch down the straight at Goodwood. It seems the way to win it is just to go hell for leather right from the off and then it’s whoever can stay on and hold on and which horse is the toughest to get to the line.
“I think the trickiest part of the race is the pull up, because it stops quite abruptly at Goodwood. There’s a dead end, it’s not a circular track like here in Australia so you need to have your wits about you at the end.
“It’s a difficult course to ride, it’s undulating, there’s a bit of a camber away from the stands so it can be a little bit dangerous down the straight.
“I think you need to know what you’re doing…and from what I’ve seen I think Georgia has got a good chance of winning it!”
Now in its ninth year, the Magnolia Cup has raised more than $2.5 million for a number of charities since its inception.
This year the Magnolia Cup will benefit Wellbeing of Women, Britain’s leading women’s reproductive and gynaecological health charity dedicated to saving the lives of women and children across the United Kingdom.
Georgia has raised more than $2,400 so far and all up more than $88,000 has been raised for the charity this year through the Magnolia Cup fundraising effort.