Five-year-old cancer patient Bradley Lowery given honorary 41st spot on Grand National race card
Five-year-old Bradley Lowery will become the first-ever honorary 41st rider in the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday as he continues his fight against a rare form of cancer.
Jockey Club Racecourses have made the move in order to support the young Sunderland football fan's campaign to raise funds and awareness of the neuroblastoma condition from which he suffers.
Bradley will be listed on the official race card with his own silks, predictably in the red-and-white colours of his beloved Black Cats football team.
Bradley's mum, Gemma Lowery, said: "We’re thrilled to be coming to Aintree for the first time and really appreciate everything that everyone is doing for Bradley and us.
"He is very excited about the big day. It is fantastic so many people will get the chance to learn about Bradley’s fight."
John Baker, who runs Aintree in his role as north west regional director at Jockey Club Racecourses, said: "Bradley Lowery’s story is one that has already touched the hearts of millions of people but we need to help him to raise greater awareness and fundraising for the fight against Neuroblastoma.
"Where better to do that than through the people’s race? If we can be part of the solution in even a small way that would make me very proud and I’m sure the British public will get behind Bradley’s fight."
Bradley was first diagnosed aged just 18-months-old, going into remission after two years before seeing the disease return in 2016.
He and his family have been given hope recently by the possibility of Bradley's inclusion in the trial of a new cell treatment that could save his life.
Bradley's cause to raise funds for expensive life-saving treatment options, as well as broader awareness of his rare condition, has been taken up by Sunderland AFC and supported by the football community more broadly.
The five-year-old has been a Sunderland team mascot several times in recent months and Everton were among those to welcome him to their ground, donating £200,000 towards his fighting fund.
Bradley has struck up a strong friendship with Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe, who also led Bradley out when he appeared as an England mascot for the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at the end of March.