Race fund-raiser in memory of Roly

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A PASSION for sport and the memory of a Cobblers legend has pulled together a Northampton family in a remarkable fund-raising bid which will take its next step forward at Towcester Racecourse on April 24.

The death of Roly Mills from Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 prompted an inspirational campaign which has so far totted up £20,500 towards the cause.

Mills, who still stands 10th in the list of all time Cobblers appearance-makers, played 327 times in league and cup matches in a claret and white shirt between 1954 and 1964.

From his home at Harpole, he was renowned as a Northampton legend, continuing to serve the club on a coaching and commercial basis after hanging up his boots.

The VIP Race Day in Mills’ memory at Towcester is the course’s first evening card of the 2011/12 season, with the action due to get underway at 5.30pm and both companies and small parties are being urged to pay £75 per head to swell the charity’s funds with all welcome.

Mills’ son Gary, who already has a Wembley date booked in his busy schedule for May 12 when his York City side face Newport County in the FA Trophy Final, is among those booked in to be there along with Mills’ widow Jean and former Cobblers boss Graham Carr.

Mills’ granddaughter Gemma Markie, whose partner is the former Cobblers goalkeeper Chris Dunn, said: “Roly was my pap and suffered with Alzheimer’s for four years before his death, and since then his family and I have pledged to raise money in his name.

“Sport was something he totally embraced. Considering we only set out to raise £10,000 when we started, he would have been chuffed and really proud that we have achieved so much.

“The idea of staging a race day in his name came from Mick White, of Dalepak, and I can’t speak highly enough of the support he and the company have given us.”

Dalepak Ltd has already agreed to sponsor a race on the card, dedicated to Mills’ memory and other local businesses could do likewise for £500, all money going to the Alzheimer’s Society.

The VIP race day package at Towcester includes entrance to the Empress Suite with private balcony overlooking the racecourse, a four-course meal, afternoon tea, a race day programme and private betting facility, a magician to entertain guests and a brief by a professional tipster to offer advice on the day’s action.

All enquiries concerning the race-day can be made by calling (01327) 353414 or by emailing info@towcester-racecourse.co.uk

THE name of ‘White’ and Harpole roots is a regular theme in this column, but with good reason, and the keen local racing supporter enjoyed another winner this week.

Dirar’s victory in the 2010 Totesport Ebor may have seemed a long time ago, but the seven year-old King’s Best gelding did his best to bridge the gap by hacking up on Sunday afternoon at Downpatrick.

The Gordon Elliott-trained gelding romped to a six length success in the Toals Bookmakers Dial-A-Bet Handicap Hurdle over 2m 2f, ending a run of 10 races without success.

He will now be aimed at a hurdle race at Fairyhouse over the Easter period, before possibly taking in the Galway Hurdle in late July, a race in which he has been third for the last two years, with one run possibly in between.

White said: “Quick ground is what this horse thrives on so we will keep him on the go now.”

Meanwhile Rylee Mooch, the Richard Guest-trained sprinter owned by members of the White family, continues to show a level of consistency. He finished fourth at Wolverhampton on Friday, despite not getting the cleanest of starts and was due to appear at Lingfield yesterday in another 5f handicap.

The band of owners would dearly love to run the Richard Guest-trained grey in the Vodafone Dash at Epsom on Derby Day, yet are conscious of the fact the four year-old by Choisir may need another year to strengthen, and still needs a hike up the handicap to get into the race.

The White-owned novice chaser Eight Is My Number is also due to re-appear in Ireland this week.

IT is not often a trip to Sixfields ends up with the chance to sit alongside a racehorse trainer with two runners at Bangor on the same afternoon, but that was my slightly surreal experience on Saturday.

Sheffield United supporter Dr Richard Newland was a guest of my own brother Graham’s company Grapinelli Ltd, associate match sponsors for the 0-0 draw with Plymouth Argyle, a link which goes back to the pair’s time spent together at Cambridge University.

The fact an enthusiastic pre-match table punt on Dr Newland’s two Bangor runners Wake Board and War Party went astray, does not deter from the fact the handler has enjoyed considerable success with a small string over the last five years, including a winner at the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree.

“We have had 21 winners this season and our strike rate this season is around 17 per cent but the statistic we are most proud of is the one which puts us top of the trainers’ table for the last couple of years for the number of winners compared to the horses in our yard,” he told me during one of the frequent lulls in the action.

SPEAKING of Aintree, Kings Sutton based owner Jerry Wright is keen to run his one-time Festival winner My Way De Solzen in the Aintree Foxhunters’, after the horse was successful on his seasonal debut at Garthorpe.