William Gittus and Montecristo on Newmarket’s summer gallop

As the man with direct responsibility for Newmarket’s historic training grounds, William Gittus is more than familiar with the 2,500-acre Heath at ‘HQ’ but he has been gaining a very different perspective of late, from the back of a horse.

The 45-year-old describes his bid to ride in the three and three-quarter mile Town Plate as “something of a ‘mid-life crisis but can’t afford the Porsche’ event”, but he has taken things a little more seriously than such a statement implies.

Since January, Gittus has lost two stone in weight and, even more crucially, has learned to ride. Having been a regular on Newmarket Heath on foot, he is now spotted daily on Montecristo, the stable hack at Rae Guest’s yard, who has proved to be a reliable partner.

The Newmarket Town Plate, a race for amateur riders which regularly attracts an extremely varied line-up of ages and abilities, was started by Charles II via an Act of Parliament in 1665. It is the longest flat race in the UK, being a mile longer than the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot. It is run this year at the July Course, at 1pm, before the start of racing on Saturday, August 27.

Gittus aims to raise £20,000 in sponsorship for his efforts, with the proceeds being split between Help For Heroes and Racing Welfare. Anyone wishing to sponsor him can do so online via http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JCE.