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Saturday 26 August will be a big day for Research Nurse Katherine (Katy) Gordon-Quayle, who will compete in the inaugural Pat Smullen Charity Race on Ireland’s most famous racecourse in aid of Cancer Trials Ireland and the OPAL (Oxford Pancreatic and Liver) Fund.

Katy and horse in the livery yard

This is the first time that a charity horse race will feature during the Pat Smullen Race Day, which is held annually at the Curragh. The day is devoted to supporting the work of Cancer Trials Ireland in memory of Pat Smullen – a legendary champion jockey who died of pancreatic cancer in 2020. His fundraising efforts following his diagnosis were extraordinary.  

15 riders will take part in the charity race, with Katy being the only rider coming from England. It is an honour to be selected and a fantastic opportunity to make a difference by raising money and awareness of pancreatic cancer research, which is a cause very close to her heart. 

I am riding for all of my patients, past and present, in the hope that we make a difference in the future - Katy

Working as part of the Surgical Research Team at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, Katy is currently responsible for seven projects with the Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) surgery team. These projects cover a broad spectrum of research from a novel interventional trial for pancreatic cancer patients to a national database for a rare liver condition.  

‘I have the privilege of supporting patients diagnosed with cancer, and specifically pancreatic cancer every day,’ said Katy. ‘I feel the impact it has on people's lives, and the time pressures put on families; pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed so late that options are limited.

‘Our treatments for pancreatic cancer have not evolved alongside other diseases, it is still a poor prognosis for many. This is the reason that research is so important and one that I support wholeheartedly.’

Katy added: ‘I am riding for all of my patients, past and present, in the hope that we make a difference in the future.’

The Pat Smullen Charity Race will run over 12 furlongs (a mile and a half) on the flat, and riders, who are asked to raise a minimum of €3,000 to take part, will have access to mentoring sessions prior to competing.

Katy has been riding all her life and was a jump jockey for a while. She may not have ridden in a race for nearly 20 years; however, her fitness levels are high. Nevertheless, riding in this race is no small undertaking. It will be challenging, but it will also be exhilarating. 

We wish Katy the best of luck! 

Katy and another rider cantering around an outdoor horse arena.

If you would like to donate, please visit Katy’s fundraising page. Any donation will be gratefully received.

Read more on the NDS Blog

Katy is planning to organise a similar charity horse race in the future with health care workers in HPB and would love to hear from any HPB specialists who would be interested in riding in a race. Please get in touch with Katy for more information.  

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