Monday, 11 March 2013

Again the last six months have been entirely manic so my first blog for 2013 is going to be a rather lazy attempt delivered mainly in pictures and quotes…

2012 can pretty much be summed up by the horse they called Frankel.

Frankel as a foal, Banstead Manor 2008
There is a joke amongst my Racing Post colleagues as to one’s claim to fame with well-known horses.  Brough Scott has galloped Red Rum along the sands at Southport beach (getting slightly run away with, it does have to be said!), Lee Mottershead has ridden Florida Pearl and Julian Muscat has been bitten by Mill Reef.  Whatever happens to me in the future, my claim to racing fame will always be that I had the extreme privilege to ride out in the same string as Frankel.  I also got to see him at home up close on quite a few occasions in 2012 and spent some memorable time with his connections.  Those few months I shall always remember.  As a result working on our Racing Post book, Frankel: The Wonder Horse last autumn was a real pleasure.  I don’t think it’s possible to ever get tired of reading the Frankel story over and over again or watching those 14 unbelievable races, especially the Guineas, Queen Anne and Juddmonte - the sort of races where time stands still and nothing else seems to matter.

I was in awe of Sir Henry Cecil last year as he battled his cancer with such fortitude and bravery and I think this was best summed up at the time by a quote from Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph last October:

“At Ascot, winter was drawing in, but it could not dim the light around Sir Henry Cecil.”

Currently, as we prepare to launch Brough’s long awaited book, Henry Cecil: Trainer of Genius (out on 12 April) this view will be aired by the most eloquent of pens and people will be able to read for themselves the whole story of Henry’s remarkable life and special gift for handling racehorses.

“It was a classic Cecil mix of almost feminine sensitivity and unmistakeable masculine authority.  No words had been said but the exchange had been eloquent.”
Brough Scott (from the book) on Cecil’s handling of his horses

Not only is the book about Henry but all those fascinating characters who have played such an important - and colourful - part along the way.  Like Steve Cauthen:

“Talking to English stuttering questioners was like having tea with your granny.  He had clear blue eyes and a deep Kentucky voice. We were in love.”
Brough Scott on Steve Cauthen

And Lester Piggott:
“Now we had locked him up.  It was sad because whilst it was proven how much he took, no one could ever assess how much he gave.”  
Brough Scott on Lester Piggott

Henry and Lester deep in The Sporting Life!
The book has involved such herculean effort from so many people and I know that it will be reviewed as one of the classics in racing history.  It will be available from

Other exciting plans on the horizon include some projects for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust. 
We go back to Aintree for our third year of the John Smith’s Aintree Legends race on Grand National Day – and this year the recently retired Hills twins join another stellar line up

Adrian Maguire makes his Legends debut in 2012!
After the success of our black tie dinner with Sir Henry Cecil last year (which raised almost £100,000 for the Trust) we are organising ‘An Evening with Jonjo O’Neill’ that will be held on Sat 28th Sept at Cheltenham Racecourse at the heart of which Jonjo will speak candidly to Mike Cattermole about  his fascinating life and career.  
Ticket details for the dinner can be found at

As 2014 approaches, we are starting to think about plans for the IJF’s 50th anniversary and ways in which to commemorate and celebrate this. 
It’s an exciting time for the charity which hopes to have planning permission for Jack Berry House approved in the next few days.  This will open in Malton, North Yorks in 2014 and serve as the North’s equivalent to Oaksey House in Lambourn as a centre of respite and rehab for injured jockeys and sports people.  The rest of this year will see a concerted fundraising drive to work towards the £3.5 million needed to build Jack Berry House.

The architect's design for Jack Berry House
At Oaksey too, things don’t stand still and a recent innovation is the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill (which is like running on air) that aids rehab for injured sports people meaning they can return to fitness quicker.  The AlterG is used in the wider sporting world by the likes of Paula Radcliffe and Rafael Nadal (sadly no sign of him in Lambourn yet!) and is already making a real difference to jockeys recovering and training at Oaksey.

Racing is so fortunate to be able to look after its own in a way that so few other sports do.  Similarly, it boasts some of the best writers and journalists in any sport and this year I am helping the Wills Writing Awards with the publicity as they celebrate 21 years of excellence

Finally, I’ve been delighted to involved with Equi Vivre racehorse retraining who had a great piece on Channel 4 on Boxing Day 2012.  My second horse, the recently retired chestnut ‘galloping pistol’ from Barbury Castle, Kings Troop, is currently up there for a holiday and some basic retraining before he comes to me in April.  I’m hoping to hunt him (with added brakes!) when I move to Wiltshire soon.

'Troopy' enjoying his new life post racing