Now that the weather has recently turned warmer and the days are longer, I have started training for the 350th Newmarket Town Plate race.
The Town Plate race will take place on the July course at Newmarket Racecourse on the 7th July and I will be raising funds for St Nicholas Hospice Care, to support its brilliant work with people facing long term or life-threatening illness right across West Suffolk.
King Charles II rode in the first race and won it! It is the oldest continually run horse race in the world and it has been run over the same three and a half mile course in Newmarket since it was inaugurated in 1666.
I have been training early in the morning with the British Racing School to prepare for it and I hope many of you may be able to attend the race, it will be a great day out.
Aside from racing, there has been much other local sport to take part in or to support. The Haverhalf half marathon took place in April and this event goes from strength to strength. This year 150 runners participated in the race, a fantastic number of people trained and turned out for this excellent event. The Thurlow 10 will take place on the 16th October this year—I have taken part in both events in recent years, and running 10 miles is a whole lot easier than running a half marathon! We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful area of the country to get out and get fit and I appreciate going out for a run when I get a chance.
We have some athletes who have risen to the top of their respective sport from the local area. Victoria Pendleton is from Mildenhall and won a gold medal in the keirin and a silver medal in the sprint in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Kate Grose, a rower from Haverhill competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Barcelona, and also from Haverhill, Caroline Maclean, the wheelchair basketball player competed in four Paralympic Games! In the upcoming Olympic Games which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, ex-RAF Lakenheath High School pupil Greg Billington will be going for gold in the triathlon. It is so encouraging to see people from our part of Suffolk competing on the world stage and it makes me wonder when I visit sporting clubs and schools in our area if one of those young people might be a future sporting superstar. We have the sporting facilities, we have the beautiful countryside, we now have the fine spring weather—there are so many reasons to get out this weekend and be active.
-- Matthew Hancock is MP for West Suffolk