liz ampairee

The Sporting Mind, September 2016

Upon his retirement in 2015, Sir Anthony ‘AP’ McCoy took on the Presidency of the Injured Jockeys Fund.  To celebrate this, Liz, along with the IJF team, organised a special ‘President’s event’, The Sporting Mind, very much in keeping with the personality of the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and 20 times Champion Jockey.  AP was joined for the evening by double gold-winning Olympic cyclist, Victoria Pendleton, who in March 2016 successfully ‘switched saddles’ and rode over fences at the Cheltenham Festival, just one year after sitting on a horse for the first time.

Clare Balding hosted the evening with these two sporting icons to a select audience, during which she candidly spoke to them about their highs and lows, successes and sacrifices, injuries and accolades and discovered how their mental fortitude enabled them to attain heights of sporting greatness.  Completely sold out, the event was a great success and will be repeated with different guests in the future.

The Sporting Mind, September 2016

Rider injuries – the flip side of the coin, 2015

As a ‘PR’ Liz’s job in the main is to court media coverage.  This effectively means to ask journalists to broadcast, or write about, a particular product, or subject when they consider it relevant to do so.  Liz tries not to be a ‘pushy’ PR but to only contact journalists with relevant subject matter for their particular show or publication.  But the task can be tricky when clients ‘push’ to get more coverage.  On the flip side of this coin, the shoe can sometimes be on the other foot when a jockey or rider ‘crisis’ occurs and Liz’s job is then not to court media coverage but to shield the individual and family from it and ‘manage’ the release of news.  

Throughout her working life, Liz has dealt with what PR’s refer to a ‘crisis management’ from minor things such as a Watchdog expose on a product, to tragic ones, such as a murder in a department store.  Since working in racing and equestrianism, and largely with her work with the Injured Jockeys Fund, Liz has to deal with rider injury on a regular basis and the huge level of media interest and thirst for news.  The only point of this entry as a ‘case study’ is to highlight that in such a situation, there should only ever be one driving force for a PR and that is the individual’s family – what they want to say, what they don’t want to say – and advising them as to how words can be misinterpreted unless they are crystal clear.  A PR’s job may seem all events and accolades, but dealing with difficult situations with sensitivity and professionalism at all hours of the day and night is the other side of this.  And it is of vital importance.

Falls are part of equestrian sport

Markel Champions Challenge, Olympia, December 2014

As part of the Injured Jockeys Fund’s celebrations for their 50th anniversary, they were selected to be ‘Charity of the Year’ for the Olympia horse show.

The Markel Champions Challenge pitted four jumps jockeys – ‘AP’ McCoy, John Francome, Sam Twiston-Davies and Sam Thomas against four of their flat counterparts, Richard Hughes, Jim Crowley, Hayley Turner and Adam Kirby.  Working with the IJF and Olympia team, Liz organised all the logistics for the event from the horses the jockeys rode to sponsorship, PR and marketing.  Part of it saw show jumper, Ben Maher give Hayley Turner a jumping lesson with an exclusive in the Daily Mail.

The night was a great success – so much so that the IJF were asked to return for round two in 2016.

AP McCoy in the Markel Champions Challenge
The jump jockeys win the Markel Champions Challenge with their coach, eventer Andrew Nicholson

Doped wins William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2013

Publishing in the modern day is a ‘risk’ business.  With the social revolution caused by the internet and the huge impact of books being available in a digital form, it is a wonder the high street book shop continues to exist at all.  Unless big publishers produce a ‘Harry Potter’ or a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ every year, then their annual sales figures are likely to make dismal reading (excuse the pun!).  Niche publishers are luckier as they have a captive market and although racing statistical books are in decline for the same obvious reasons, ‘one off’ books are still able to thrive.  This is by no means guaranteed though and to strike gold, every single factor has to be ‘right’. 

With Doped, Racing Post Books got it ‘right’ and the book was rewarded with the hugely prestigious accolade of winning the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2013.  To achieve this was a real team effort and involved Jamie Reid’s original text having a brilliant editor in Ian Preece, an eye-catching front cover produced by the Racing Post in-house designer Jay Vincent, the unswerving faith of RP Book’s MD James de Wesselow and a strong publicity campaign organised by Liz.  As a result the book sold at least double what it would have done if it had not won the award plus achieved a huge amount of kudos for Racing Post Books as a serious and successful sports publisher.

Doped - William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2013

An Evening with Sir Henry Cecil, 3rd May 2012

An Evening with Sir Henry Cecil in association with Juddmonte was held on Thursday 3rd May 2012 at the Bedford Lodge Hotel in Newmarket. Liz organised this alongside a brilliant committee comprised of Mike Cattermole, Lady Cecil, Bob Champion, Alan Cooper, Mike Dillon, Libby Harris, Yvonne Jacques, Wendy Johnson Houghton, Henry Ponsonby, Tom Queally, Brough Scott and Lucy Wilkinson. The idea was to host a memorable evening that celebrated Henry’s incredible life and career as well as to raise funds for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust. 

At the heart of the evening was a special video tribute to Henry, a Q+A conducted by Brough Scott and an auction that included one of Frankel’s Sussex Stakes racing plates, framed by Theo Fennell – and which alone raised £16,000! Working closely with Lucy Wilkinson, the Executive Director of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, Liz worked on all aspects of organising this special evening from creation of the original idea to bringing the night to fruition. Putting together ideas for the video footage and souvenir brochure was a feat in itself as to do so involved selecting the best horses and pictures of a remarkable career spanning five decades – and including 10 Trainers Championships, 36 Classic Winners, Three Triple Crown Winners and 3384 winners.

Attended and supported by many of Henry’s owners, friends and family and some of the best known names in racing, the evening was a unique occasion and raised over £100,000 for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

Henry speaks candidly about his life and career, 3rd May 2012
Henry watching his string on Newmarket Heath, his regular routine for the last 50 years (and the front cover of the souvenir brochure)

Bob Champion Aintree Legends Race 2011

In the year that Charles married Diana and Bucks Fizz won Eurovision, Bob Champion (recovering from testicular cancer) and Aldaniti (recovering from a serious leg injury) created a real life fairy story by winning the Aintree Grand National.

30 years later - and a few weeks before William married Kate - Bob Champion rode on that hallowed Aintree turf once again, in a special John Smith's Aintree Legends Charity race on Grand National Day.

Liz worked with Bob, his team and the Aintree and John Smith's teams on all aspects of the race - organising the line up of 12 'legends', sourcing the horses, fund-raising, publicising the race, managing all associated events and looking after logistics on the day.

A huge success and a very emotional day with the race shown on BBC1, over £100,000 was raised for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

John Smith's Aintree Legends Race, April 2011
The Legends are led round the first bend by Carl Llewellyn and eventual winner, Tony Dobbin

Racing Post Books 2010 - the McCoy campaign

From the moment 'AP' won the John Smith's Grand National on April 10th 2010, the team at the Racing Post knew that this was the year to publish a tribute to him using 17 years of the unique Racing Post archive. Liz worked on the team to plan, publish, sell and publicise the book.

The aim was not only to produce a best-selling title, but to use this for the benefit or racing and the hope that McCoy would become the first jockey ever to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
The book campaign included an extensive programme of interviews and signings for its editor, Brough Scott - which included coverage in the Times, Telegraph, Mail, Mirror and Guardian and appearances on Channel 4, Sky Sports, Radio 4, talkSport and 5 Live.

As a result McCoy was short-listed at the Sports Books Awards for Best Publicity Campaign.
'AP' also won BBC Sports Personality 2010.

Jilly Cooper with 'AP', Cheltenham 2010

Richard Dunwoody's 1000 Mile Challenge 2009

From 29th May to 10th July 2009 Richard emulated Captain Barclay's feat of 200 years ago by walking 1000 miles in 1000 hours - walking one mile in every consecutive clock hour and only able to sleep for about an hour at any one time over a period of 42 days.

Richard finished this remarkable feat accompanied by the legendary jockey Lester Piggott on Newmarket racecourse in front of packed stands, and whereas Barclay achieved the feat for a 1000 Guineas bet, Richard undertook it for charity, raising almost £200,000.

Liz and her team managed the whole project from the outset, sourcing sponsorship, writing the website, putting together the celebrity programme (which included names such as HH Sheikh Mohammed, Michael Holding, Jilly Cooper, AP McCoy, Ryan Moore, Dean Richards and a Bond girl!), co-ordinating the logistics, PR and all fund-raising working with the four charities. The Challenge achieved mass media coverage including BBC1 News, BBC Breakfast, ITV, Channel 4, Radio 5 Live, Radio 2, The Telegraph, Mirror, Sun, Observer, Independent and Racing Post.

Richard Dunwoody with Lester Piggott at the end of the 1000 Mile Challenge, Newmarket 2009
Richard and 'AP' leave the Bedford Lodge hotel in the early hours during the 1000 Mile Challenge 2009

Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race 2008

In December 2008 / January 2009 the first race to the South Pole for almost 100 years took place in the footsteps of the great duel between the British Scott and the Norwegian Amundsen. Competitors from all over the world took part including Double Olympic Gold Medallist rower, James Cracknell, TV presenter, Ben Fogle, and blind Irish motivational speaker and adventurer, Mark Pollock.

Liz worked with the race organisers, sponsors and agents on the publicity and PR for the whole project, initially organising the high profile press launch at the Absolut Ice bar in London and then managing the media when the race itself was underway. Coverage was extensive across national print and broadcast media worldwide. A BBC documentary, On Thin Ice, was also made and shown on BBC2 in 2009.

Team Qinetiq James Cracknell, Ben Fogle and Ed Coates at the South Pole, January 2009