Jockeys to wear charity arm bands for The Prostate Cancer Charity in the King George

  • 15 July 2011

The distinctive move, which aims to raise awareness of the most common cancer in men, affecting over 250,000 of the male population and their families across the UK, will be witnessed by substantial crowds, with up to 75,000 people expected to attend the event, a global audience of millions watching it on the BBC and Attheraces, as well as foreign channels covering the event.

The white armbands, emblazoned with the Charity's name, will be worn in the weekend's European premier mid-season middle distance championship race, which takes place on Saturday 23 July and is worth over £1m.

The request for jockeys to sport white armbands came from Betfair, the official sponsors of the weekend. The Charity is Betfair's official Charity of the Year, and as well as raising awareness it's hoped that the bold move will raise funds to help men and their families affected by the disease.

A number of high-profile people from the racing world - including Her Majesty's Representative at Ascot and Chairman of the racecourse, Johnny Weatherby, leading jumps owner JP McManus, David Ashforth, well-known racing journalist, Matt Chapman, presenter of Attheraces and racing broadcaster of the year, and Michael Jarvis, one of Britain's most successful, respected and well-liked trainers of recent years - are all backing the campaign, and have voiced their support ahead of the weekend.

Michael Jarvis, who retired earlier this year for health reasons, has trained many high-class horses, including Rakti, a multiple Group One race winner, Carroll House, who won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Ameerat and Eswarah, winners of the 1000 Guineas and Oaks.

Michael said: "I was diagnosed with prostate cancer ten years ago. The treatments available have extended my life considerably but early diagnosis is essential, as is having regular check-ups. Drugs are being tested and developed all the time but this costs money and I hope this day can help raise people's awareness about this disease."

JP McManus added: "As someone who has been treated for prostate cancer, I think it is great that Betfair and Ascot have taken this initiative, together with The Prostate Cancer Charity, and I am fully supportive of it.

"We all think that it'll never happen to us but it can, and I think it is important for all men to be aware of it. Early diagnosis of prostate cancer is essential so that what can be a very manageable situation is dealt with before it becomes unmanageable."

Johnny Weatherby said: "Ascot is delighted to support the wearing of white armbands by jockeys in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) as part of The Prostate Cancer Charity's campaign to raise awareness of the disease among race goers and television viewers. It's a disease that affects many men and this initiative by Betfair is a great idea."

And leading racing journalist David Ashforth, given a special lifetime recognition at December's Horserace Writers and Photographers Awards, gave his backing to the initiative.

David Ashforth said: "This is a great idea and a great thing for racing to be involved with. As one of thousands of men with prostate cancer, I know how important it is to raise awareness of the disease, in the same way that awareness of breast cancer has been raised. I hope that the whole of racing gets behind this campaign."

And Chapman said: "As someone whose father sadly passed away partly due to prostate cancer, I know that this is a disease where we can do something to help ourselves. My advice to men is to get checked out."

Betfair's Chairman Edward Wray commented: "We are thrilled to be supporting our Charity of the Year in this way, and we hope that this initiative will not only help raise awareness in racing circles, but also to a far wider audience.

"And we would like to thank the different racing bodies who have responded so positively to our proposal for armbands to be worn in our race for the charity."

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive at The Prostate Cancer Charity said: "It is incredibly exciting to see that dozens of jockeys will be saddling up to help raise awareness of prostate cancer at this prestigious event. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and with that in mind it's vital that we get people thinking about the disease, as well ensuring that men know that we are a safe bet for information, support and advice. Thanks to Betfair's support and the backing of Ascot, the Racehorse Owners Association and the Professional Jockeys Association.

"And of course with the co-operation of the jockeys riding in the race itself, it's odds on that this important message will reach thousands of people this weekend."

Owen added: "We're enormously grateful to everyone at Betfair for getting involved with this important cause. Betfair will be able to influence millions of people and it's fantastic to have them on board improving the lives of men affected by this disease - together we are a better bet for fighting prostate cancer."