Tragic death of amateur jockey Lorna Brooke inspires friends' North Coast 500 challenge to raise funds for Injured Jockeys Fund and Retraining of Racehorses charities
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FOUR women more used to saddling up on their four-legged friends have taken to two wheels on a gruelling North Coast 500 challenge inspired by a friend who lost her life after a tragic fall from a horse.
Kate Jones, Tabitha Worsley, Rachel Bradbury with Meg Thomas are tackling the 516-mile route in memory of dear friend Lorna Brooke who died after the fall at Taunton Racecourse earlier this year.
Ms Brooke, who would have turned 38 this week, has been described as "one in a million" by Evan Williams, one of the trainers with whom she worked.
After the tragedy, he said: "It's so devastating to think poor old Lorna has gone – words can't describe it. She was what makes this sport great. It's not just about the big prizes at big meetings, it's about the Lornas of this world."
Her father, Sir Alistair Brooke, was born and brought up at Midfearn, Ardgay and he and his wife Sue are staying there to support the women during their ride, which is raising funds for the Injured Jockeys Fund and the Retraining of Racehorses.
Her cousin, Nicola Sugden of Campbell's of Beauly, said Lorna had been an amateur jockey for over 20 years and was within two weeks of retiring from the sport she loved when she sadly paid the ultimate price.
Ironically some 10 years ago, Lorna and a friend bicycled from Land's End to John O'Groats and raised over £20,000 after a fellow jockey had fallen and broken her back.
The girls, who started out on Saturday, had a tough first day, covering 86 miles and 4500ft of elevation. They set themselves a £10,000 target which has already been surpassed but are keen to raise as much as they can for the charities.
Kate Jones said: "They smashed it but the last few miles were pretty tough mentally and physically on what was then weary legs. They cycled from Midfearn, Ardgay, to Plockton."
Today they continue in Ross-shire en route to Gairloch.
The group said of their effort: "The Injured Jockeys Fund provide care daily to sports people from minor 'tune ups' to life changing rehabilitation and recovery to those who need it!
"They are an amazing organisation and one whom without many of us wouldn't have the friends we do - or have the life we do! We are keen to provide as much support to the amazing people and work they do!
"The Retraining of Racehorses provide training to horse who have finished their racing career and ensure they have a future life outside of racing. Hundreds of horses come out of training every year and without these charities would be cast aside and written off. The charity provide a great outlet for horses to have a second life and enjoy a home where they get to explore their 'out of racing' talents. "Animal welfare is at the core of racing both on the track, and off the track. This charity ensures this welfare continues for these horses even once they leave the racing industry!
"Please support our efforts as generously as you can, and please help us remember our dear dear friend in a way to make her proud! We know she will be with us, laughing as we struggle and pushing us to keep us going!
"Lorna is truly missed and is a loss to many near and far!"
To contribute, see https://www.justgiving.com/team/LornaBrooke