Newmarket Town Plate: Jockey Rachel Rennie to achieve her dream five years after life-changing news
Riding in the historic Newmarket Town Plate was an ambition Rachel Rennie was set to achieve five years ago until she was diagnosed with breast cancer just a month before the race.
Now, after surgery and treatment at Addenbrookes Hospital, the 48-year-old rider has been given a second chance to fulfil her dream of competing in the race which was founded in 1666 by King Charles II.
“I had a pea-sized lump appear overnight so I went to the doctors and they said go to the hospital to get it checked out and a week later I was in surgery. It was pretty swift and to give them their due they were on the ball,” said Rachel.
“I had the lump cut out and eight rounds of chemotherapy, 20 rounds of radiotherapy and 10 years’ worth of tablets.”
Rachel, who lives in Cottenham with her husband Nick, said that having horses around her at home helped her recovery.
“It meant I wasn’t sitting around feeling sorry for myself. When I felt poorly, I would go out for half-an-hour and then come back in.
“Looking back it was a bit like childbirth. It was pretty awful at the time but you soon forget about it,” said Rachel, who is mother to 23-year old Lauren.
In 2016, she was due to be partnered with Amber Flush, a mare who had competed on the flat as well as over hurdles and fences, but she has since gone to stud and has produced two foals.
In this year’s 351st renewal of the three-and-three-quarter-mile race, Rachel’s mount will be Friends Don’t Ask, a six-year-old gelding who has recorded three victories over fences since November and is owned by a partnership of which Rachel is a member.
Like Amber Flush, Friends Don’t Ask is trained by Martin Smith at his Kremlin House yard in Newmarket where Rachel works.