Bathed in spring sunshine and the course looking pristine, it was the perfect setting for the staging of the 157th Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown race course on Tuesday and the 9th such occasion for Team Forces.

With customary panache and style the day was a huge success, maybe not quite Cheltenham but nevertheless fabulous! With a reception, hospitality, a great bunch of friends, sponsors and supporters and of course the dreaded Tote to fritter away cash on the horses, it is always a special day to remember and nice to see it return after last being held in 2019, even it it means losing pounds on bets and gaining the wrong sort of pounds on the tasty hospitality!

It would not be the same Grand Military event without our very own, irrepressible compare and equine font-of-all-knowledge, Simon Ledger, to Introducing a series of guests from riders to trainers to provide an amusing and indeed informative backdrop to the day, even if the racing tips proved a little suspect this year! Unfortunately, world events and Covid took its toll on the numbers able to attend but still over 100 joined the party to cheer on the runners and riders and generally soak up the very special ambiance that makes the race day at Sandown and a jewel in the crown of the annual series of Team Forces events.

The Grand Military is a highly prestigious occasion for our military jockeys, competing in front of distinguished guests and royalty, and performing at what must be one of the highlights of the racing year. Team Forces is therefore thrilled to maintain their connection to the event, be able to share such a special day with sponsors and supporters and feed money back to the grand military committee that then helps open up such fabulous sporting opportunities to all ranks.

Thanks to all, we hope you enjoyed it and we will be back again in 2023.

Armed Forces Racing and the the Grand Military Gold Cup

2022 is the 157th running of the Grand Military Gold Cup (GMGC), the majority of which have been run at Sandown Park Racecourse. Grand Military Day is one of three days within military racing. Royal Artillery Gold Cup day, on 17 February 2022, was a superb renewal supported strongly by the Royal Regiment of Artillery who descended on Sandown Park in their hundreds. Supporters entered into the spirit of racecourse attendance with gusto – as well as charm and good behaviour. They were not disappointed with the four starters ridden into an excellent finish. Maj Charlie O’Shea took the honours on the Phillip Hobbs trained Rolling Dylan owned by Colonel James Ferguson of the Honourable Artillery Company. Second was Hogan’s Height ridden by Capt Will Kellard and third was Ballycross ridden by Sgt Nathan Rahman; all three were due to run in the Gold Cup but sadly Hogan’s Height has not come back in time.

The Grand Military Day provides two opportunities for military amateur riders with the Grand Military Gold Cup and The Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Amateur Riders’ Handicap. There are around 18 military riders with amateur licences, as well as several young servicemen and women who are in the process of completing assessment at the British Racing School or National Horseracing College to gain their licence to ride Under Rules. UK Armed Forces Equestrian is  particularly grateful to Team Forces (formerly Team Ethos), who give much needed financial support to the training of military riders. This funding goes towards some of the significant costs that a rider now has to meet to both get their first ride and to retain their licence on an annual basis.

The final military amateur riders race of the season is the McCreery Military Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle at Wincanton on 10 April 2022.