Sam wrote to Willberry asking if he could help her with a very special treat to help her through her cancer battle. She had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, and following surgery was going through her six month chemotherapy course. Sam had a very particular dream and that was to ride on the Newmarket gallops with her little horse Goldie, together with her friend Pia.
Well Willberry was gobsmacked for a moment – was it possible for anyone other than jockeys aboard million pound thoroughbreds to set hoof upon those hallowed tracks? This was a very new challenge, but he had faith in his team to give it their best shot and try to make Sam’s dream come true.
After a couple of conversations with trainers, Willberry decided to go straight to the top and write to the Jockey Club head office – I mean the worst they could do was laugh at them wasn’t it?!
The loveliest part of being a part of Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony is that you are constantly surprised and humbled by people’s generosity, and the Jockey Club were no exception. Much to their amazement, wonderful Lindsay from the Jockey Club Estates came back with an immediate “Yes we can”! But before we could even begin celebrating, Lindsay also offered Sam and Pia a tour around Newmarket training grounds and the Jockey Rooms followed by lunch – wow wow WOW! Lindsay thought it would be better to have the two treats on different days because the horses would not want to be on the lorry for too long, so the good news was relayed back to Sam that she had not one but TWO treats in store. She was blown away by such a kind and generous offer, and couldn’t wait to tell Pia!
Because Pia's horse, Annie was struggling a little with a dust allergy in the dry summer, the first treat was the tour of the grounds with Lindsay, and lunch, courtesy of kind and generous Charlotte. Sam had the most memorable day,
“Watching the horses training on the gallops this morning was wonderful - seeing so many of them was awesome! Lindsay's tour of Newmarket and all of the yards was brilliant ... we had no idea there were quite so many.”
They then had a lovely lunch on the patio at the Jockey Club, being treated like VIP’s and enjoying the delicious food. An extra treat was a tour around the Jockey Club afterwards with Charlotte, looking at the amazing art collection and learning all about the history of horse racing. What a day to remember!
Once the rains had fallen, it was finally time for the big day on the gallops! Sam and Pia were so excited, but Willberry had one more surprise up his sleeve.. He had found someone very special to come and take some photos of them in action. Dominic James is an incredible photographer whose work is known globally as well as in the racing world. He was exceptionally generous in giving his valuable time to come and spend the morning with Sam and Pia, and was so lovely on the day, making them feel completely at ease.
Dominic took some beautiful photos which Sam and Pia will treasure forever, and we are so grateful and thankful for his support and generosity. (Photography by Dominic James of @horsesintraining.)
They had the most fantastic time on the gallops, getting a little taste of that exhilarating feeling of speed – even if Goldie and Annie weren’t quite as fast as the racehorses, they believed they were! It really blew the cobwebs away for a day, and both Sam and Pia have been talking about it ever since. A truly memorable experience where just for a few hours nothing else in the world mattered.
There are barely enough words to thank Lindsay for her incredible support and generosity in making this wish possible – we literally couldn’t have done it without you! Our huge thanks also to Charlotte for giving so much of her time to make the girls feel so special, and of course once again to Dominic for his time and talent to tell Sam’s story in wonderful photographs that will last forever.
Keep kicking and keep galloping Sam and Goldie 💗