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News Article

'Galloping Padre' makes history at Sandown

10 Mar 08

A Royal Navy padre made history on Friday 7 March 2008 when he became the first Navy chaplain to ride at Sandown in the Grand Military Cup.

The Galloping Padre. Opens in a new window.

The Galloping Padre (left) riding 'Feeling Better' in the Grand Military Cup
[Picture: LA(Phot) Dave Jenkins]

Father Simon Beveridge, 47, known as 'The Galloping Padre' made a great start onboard 'Feeling Better', the Jimmy Frost-trained horse, and was leading the field past the grandstand on the first circuit when he was run out by loose horses and forced out of the race. Happily Simon was unhurt but a little disappointed:

"It was going very well until I got taken out by two loose horses and I was run into the rails," Simon explained. "It's not common but it can happen and, while I'm very disappointed, at the same time I'm pleased that I'm still in one piece and not injured.

"I've come off horses before but not in that way. I was really looking forward to the race. It's something I've been working towards for several years."

Simon has already made racing history by becoming the first minister of the church to win a point to point – he had a 50 to 1 victory at Wadebridge in December 2007. He has served in the Royal Navy since 1993 and it was while he was training that he caught the racing bug and also where he picked up the nickname the Galloping Padre:

Father Simon Beveridge. Opens in a new window.

Father Simon Beveridge was the first Navy Chaplain to ride in the Grand Military Cup
[Picture: LA(Phot) Dave Jenkins]

"I've spent a lot of my career with the Royal Marines and it was while I was at Lympstone that I first got the taste for racing. During a casual conversation over a cup of tea, a chap I was talking with told me about a course I could do. So I started riding out for a local trainer in Devon.

"Then while I was serving on HMS Bulwark in early 2005 I had the chance to do the Amateur National Hunt Jockey's course at the British Racing School in Newmarket. From there I had to do an assessment to prove I was capable of riding and then I applied for my Category 'A' racing licence."

Since being the Chaplain at the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton he has been able to ride out most weeks at John Ryall's Farm at Rimpton in Somerset. He hopes more opportunities to race will come up in the future:

"I've been racing for just one season but I'd like to race some more. I'm a chaplain, not a jockey, but racing is something I like to do."

A racing vicar is not a common sight at racecourses around the country, but the Galloping Padre ensured that his first ride under National Hunt rules in this most famous of all military races was a piece of racing history, and he clearly enjoyed every minute of it.