[A] FORMER jockey who works behind the scenes at racecourses across the North has donated an unusual piece of Grand National memorabilia to the region’s air ambulance.
The race-worn saddle cloth bearing the name of One For Arthur was carried to victory in the 2017 Grand National.
Now, signed by both jockey and trainer, the item is being sold by the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) to raise money for its life-saving missions.
It has been framed alongside a race card signed by all 40 jockeys participating in the race as well as a photograph of One For Arthur wearing the item.
The saddle cloth was donated by Steve Charlton, 62, of High Etherley, County Durham. Mr Charlton is well-known in the racing world as the North’s National Hunt valet, responsible for kitting out jockeys at meetings from Sedgefield and Cartmel to Aintree and Doncaster.
One of his staff, Paul Renshaw, secured the saddle cloth in the aftermath of April’s showpiece race at Aintree, before gathering all the signatures.
Mr Charlton said: “It’s just my way of helping. This service is funded by public donations, and we should help any way we can. I hope people get bidding and help raise as much as possible for this great cause.”
As only one side could be displayed in the frame, Mr Charlton split the cloth into two identical parts, with the other going under the hammer for charity later in the year.
The sale is being backed by One For Arthur’s trainer, Lucinda Russell, who said: “We are delighted that this piece of racing history is being sold to raise money for the air ambulance, which is as vital for the horse racing community as it is the general public.”
Grahame Pickering MBE, chief executive of GNAAS, said: “We’d like to thank everyone, notably Steve and his team, for making this possible. This a very rare item indeed and we are hoping it will raise a good sum.
“Any money it does raise will help us to continue to fly across the North-East, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.”
The lot will be available from 8.30pm this evening (WED) on eBay for ten days. A link to the item is available at the charity’s website at www.gnaas.com
The charity’s eBay page is at www.ebay.co.uk/usr/gnairambulance