MEMBERS of the public are a step closer to fulfilling their dreams of being a jockey for the day at York Racecourse.

The group, aiming to take part in the Best Western Hotels & Macmillan Ride of their Lives on June 16, faced a daunting rider assessment test in Doncaster last week – and all passed with flying colours.

Former champion jockey Kevin Darley ran the rule over the riders at the Northern Racing College, where they all had to show they can handle a thoroughbred racehorse. Tests included sessions on mechanical training horses, before going out on the gallops on former racehorses to ride at speed and practice starts.

Jill Boak, from Malton, is riding in memory of her dad, former jockey Mark Birch, who died of lung cancer in 2016. She said: “Less than four weeks to go, I think we’re all ready for it now. The fitness test is in a couple of weeks – it’s the final hurdle really, a big challenge.

“I’ve raised about £5,000 so far, that’s been a heck of a journey. It’s the first time I’ve really done a lot of fundraising but, yes, a lot of work has gone into the fundraising side of things, as much as the riding in fact. On top of that, working full time, having kids, it’s a big take on to do all of this really.

“I’m absolutely looking forward to the big day, it’s going to be a good day and a very emotional day for me with my dad’s ashes being at the winning post.”

The next challenge for the riders is a fitness test at Jack Berry House on June 5. They all need to pass before being allowed in the race.

Macmillan Charity Raceday is a fundraising collaboration between York Racecourse and Macmillan Cancer Support. For more information and to support the riders’ fundraising, visit