Thursday, 18 March 2010

Still Racing

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

For all my resolutely non-horsey readers, I apologise, as Cheltenham goes on. Despite having an excellent win in the second race yesterday, I am what is known as down on the meeting.

Sarah calls. 'Are you gambling all day?' she says. Then, sternly: 'How much have you lost?' The answer is: more than I would like.

So I have little time to write, as I must go at once and study the form. I have a hot tip for the 4.00; keep your fingers crossed for Song of Songs.

Today, fifty-one years ago, my father rode a horse called Irish Coffee at the festival. He and my mother left it late to get to the meeting, got stuck in traffic, and thought they were going to miss the race. My dad got out of the car and ran the last few hundred yards to the course, arriving at the weighing room to find another jockey wearing his silks. Just in time, he tore the colours of the fellow's back, dashed out to the paddock, and got up onto his horse.

'I finally managed to park the car,' my mother says. 'And I ran into the crowd just in time to see his cap.' That was all she could see, as my father flashed past the winning post in front.

Sadly I don't have a photograph of the great Irish Coffee, but here is my old dad, in his glory days:

dad and me riding 008

That's my father on the left. You can see how riding styles have changed in the last fifty years. Look at that fella on the right: you'd never see a jockey do that now. It used to be known as calling a cab.

dad and me riding 015

There is dad again, on the right, kicking on.

dad and me riding 003

And there I am, attempting to follow in his footsteps, not quite fifty years ago, but almost thirty. I still remember that pony. He jumped like a stag and I could not hold one side of him; I inherited him from my older brother and I absolutely adored him. Those were the days when I did not understand anyone who did not get up at seven in the morning to muck out. Quite soon afterwards, I got to London and discovered boys and The Great Gear Market, and that was that.


  1. Some great old photos there. God bless Cheltenham week, although I'm currently down, oh well.

  2. But you ride beautifully!
    I miss Cheltenham.

    Miss W x

  3. What terrific photographs, and what a lovely story about your father...

    My only successful flutter was at the Kentucky Derby in 1969 when I on Majestic Prince. (sadly I was young and broke at the time and could only put a 2 dollar bet down!!!)

    Good luck today!

  4. You are so lucky - I can't watch the Cheltenham meet here in Brussels as we only have BBC1 and BBC2 in the house.
    I suppose I could go round to the local bookies and watch it but the shop is really too, too awful ... smells of old fag ends even though smoking has been banned there for ages and full of very shadey looking people. Also the woman behind the desk wot takes the money is a cow - last time I won something I took in my ticket and she said 'You'll have to come back tomorrow as I've no change' - no, I didn't win hundreds, but about €6.50!


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