By Cara Sulieman
AN EDINBURGH student is getting the perfect birthday present – racing at the Grand National this weekend.Rosanagh Robertson celebrated her 23rd birthday yesterday.
But the icing on the cake will be when she takes to the stirrups on Saturday.
The sports science student at Edinburgh University has always loved horses but has never had the chance to ride a professional racehorse before.
And now the lucky lady has been chosen as one of the 10 competitors to race in a charity nine-furlong race just before the main event at Aintree.
She said: “I applied on the website, and they just asked about your fitness and riding experience. I’ve always been around horses and I’ve evented since a young age.
“I was really surprised when I was told I was in the final 32, as I’d almost forgotten about entering.”
At that stage the hopefuls underwent rigorous training as the final 10 were chosen.
In the run up to the big day, the student is getting eight hour training every day from Kinross-based trainer Lucinda Russell, but juggling this with the demands of her final-year dissertation are taking their toll.
She said: “Probably my fourth year at university isn’t the best time for this.”
The journey to the race was a long and testing one, with Rosanagh going through tests of stamina, riding ability, fitness and technique at Doncaster Racecourse.
But it was all necessary for the adrenalin junkie to master the art of riding a racehorse.
“Gallop very fast”
Rosanagh said: “Riding a racehorse is completely different from what I’m used to. They are trained to gallop very fast and not really stop.
“When you are riding in a race, you just hear all the other horse. You’ve got people next to you hitting your stirrup irons.
“I was a bit nervous at first, but then I loved it. I’m an adrenalin junkie – I’ve bungee-jumped and dived with white sharks.”
The standard of the competitors in this year’s charity race has impressed the organisers, who are hopeful that it will be bigger than ever.
Gareth Turner, of sponsors John Smith’s said: “The standard of all the riders who made it through training was exceptionally high, and all of them have worked tremendously hard over the last few months.
“This year’s race looks like being the most exciting yet, with more than £100,000 being raised for charity.”
Each competitor in the race receives £5,000 for their chosen charity, and the winner gets a whopping £50,000 for charity and a trip to Dubai.
Rosanagh will be donating her money to Tenteleni, a student charity providing educational opportunities in Africa.