Richard Pitman is hoping to ride in the 2012 Legends Race at Aintree just weeks after donating a kidney to a total stranger.
Richard, 69, underwent the 3 hour operation to donate the kidney in January and is thrilled to now be fit enough to line up with the other veteran jockeys of the Grand National. His only request was that the operation be done in time for him to recover and take part in the race he has been involved in for over 40 years. Richard finished twice in second place in the Grand National, most notably on Crisp in 1973. The horse led for almost four and a half miles and was pipped in the shadow of the post by the legendary Red Rum, speaking recently to the Mail on Sunday Richard said “I’d enjoyed the ride of a lifetime, I live for the National always have done”. With Channel 4 taking over coverage from next year this will be his last appearance as a key member of the BBCs commentary team at Aintree.
Richard had offered to donate a kidney to friend Tim Gibson, he felt he couldn’t accept but luckily another donor was found and after witnessing his remarkable recovery Richard decided to donate to someone he would never know. He admits his wife and two daughters took some persuading, making light of his invaluable gift he said, “There’s nothing to it really. I didn’t see any downsides in this, only the benefits, what is a bit if pain and discomfort if you can save someone’s life.” His selfless generosity has undoubtably helped to boost the cause of organ donation and given hope to those waiting on long transplant lists.
The John Smith’s Grand National Legends Charity race will be the first race on the card on Grand National day, Richard will join retired Grand National winning jockeys as well as other famous names from the weighing room. The race which is run on the flat over a distance of 1 mile 5 furlongs, supports the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, the charity was founded in 1983 in the wake of Bob’s victory on Aldaniti. The Trust has since raised millions of pounds which has been used for research in to cancer and to support sufferers.
Richard will be joined by the likes of Pat Eddery, Ben Haan and Carl Llewellyn, who amongst many other famous names in the racing world, are lending their support to the fund raising race. After thinking his days as a jockey were long gone Pitman is thrilled to be continuing his involvement with the Grand National by riding at Aintree on the big day.