Annabelle Hadden-Wight wins the 2023 Markel Magnolia Cup

04th August 2023

Annabelle Hadden-Wight, who is a work rider and secretary for Jack Jones Racing, landed the 2023 Magnolia Cup.

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Hadden-Wight was prominent throughout on her mount Fosroc and gamely held off Eliza McCalmont on C.Eliza Doolots.

Since its inception, the Magnolia Cup has raised £2.1 million for various charities. A record £324,000 was raised in 2022, with the sum donated to The Brilliant Breakfast.

This year, the Markel Magnolia Cup is supporting Education Above All’s (EEA) Educate A Child programme. All net proceeds will go to a project in Malawi that provides education and support for children most at risk of dropping out of primary education through a joint project between Education Above All and CAMFED.

I had always wanted to race ride, and I thought about getting my licence but I got cold feet on that idea. Emma [Chamings, Goodwood Press Office] called me at the beginning of the year and asked if I would do it, and I thought 'My god yes, I'd love to!

Annabelle Hadden-Wight

Hadden-Wight added “I ride out in Newmarket and I am secretary for Jack Jones. It has not really sunk in, it was so much fun, I want to do it all over again! I have only ridden the horse once, and I did not know what to expect.

“He jumped really well, we got a good start, and I was in front most of the way. I had two each side and I decided that I was not going to let them come past! My legs were good, but I did jump off and my knees buckled. I am pretty tired now!

“It has been an amazing experience, a lot of cameras, but the whole thing has been really well organised and we have been very well looked after.

Four years ago I was in the Philippines and I got really ill on my 18th birthday, on just the second day we were there. I ended up spending months and months out there – I had meningitis with lots of complications and my legs weren't working, I was in a wheelchair.

Annabelle Hadden-Wight

Hadden-Wight continued “They said I may never walk or ride again. After making a full recovery, I like to take every opportunity, it really changed my outlook on life. It was for the best, but at the time pretty scary.

It is so nice to have my friends and family here, some I have not seen for ages. Mum is here, she is not horsey at all and has found the whole thing terrifying!"

Eliza McCalmont said of C.Eliza Doolots: “He was such a good boy, we were just unlucky on the day, but it was such good fun. I am really happy. It was a really exciting finish, he tried so hard, he just hates that ground, but he was such an honest boy.”

It was very nerve-wracking. We were in the paddock for a long time, which made the anticipation so long. But once you’re on, your nerves just go and you just know what you’ve got to do.

Eliza McCalmont

McCalmont continued: “My whole family is in racing, I’m sixth generation so it’s in my blood, so it makes it so special. I work for George Scott, so I ride out every morning, but I’ve been going to the gym every afternoon because the fitness is so different to riding out every day. That finish really takes it out of you!

I have ridden him quite a bit recently. He is not always the easiest ride at home so I didn’t used to ride him, but in preparation for this, I have been. He was great today, so I’m really happy.”

On the feeling of crossing the finish line, she said: “It was kind of annoying as I could see she was just in front of me, so it was a bit ‘ah gutting!’ – but it was an amazing feeling, because he just gave me his all. What I didn’t want was to get to the end of the race and think, ‘I wish I’d done that differently’, and I was so happy with how the whole race went.”

It was really amazing. That is the first time I have ridden in the Magnolia Cup, I’m so proud that I was a part of this race. I finished third, but I’m happy.

Khadija Al-Bastaki
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