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Varsity rivalry moves into horse racing

Newmarket racecourse will host the inaugural Varsity horse race between UK universities Oxford and Cambridge on October 17.

The flat race over eight furlongs on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course will run as part of Dubai Future Champions Day, featuring five riders from each university.

Oxford and Cambridge have a long-established tradition of sporting rivalry through showpiece events such as the annual Boat Race on London’s River Thames and Varsity rugby union matches.

As part of the promotion of the event, Great British Racing will allow students free entry to the seven-race Dubai Future Champions Day and British Champions Day at Ascot on October 18.

Student Harry Beckett, who first conceived the idea, said: “I’ve spent two years trying to get this race off the ground so I'm delighted to see it come to fruition. I sincerely hope that this is just the start of a real connection between racecourses and students, as there is a real need for more sustainable investment. Fingers-crossed it will become an annual event, enabling riders to qualify for a Blue in future years.”

Oxford and Cambridge have never faced each other on the racecourse, despite both boasting active equestrian clubs.