I first got into horse racing when I became transfixed with the glorious and magnificent Red Rum. My first memory of him is watching my mother kick the TV screen as Tommy Carberry pulled away on L’Escargot on the run-in in the 1975 National. After that I used to wait desperately for the daily paper to drop through the letterbox so I could devour the racing pages. I soon became familiar with the top names of the day: Winter; Pitman; Gifford; Kelleway; Champion; King etc… and before long I was helping my dad pick out his selections for the ITV 7 on a Saturday afternoon. My mum made me a replica of Noel Le Mare’s famous maroon and yellow colours carried by Brian Fletcher on Rummy, and an old armchair made an excellent replica horse as I recreated imaginary races where Red Rum won by a distance, destroying Pendil and The Dikler and – most importantly – the evil L’Escargot, in my fantasy Gold Cup races.
One thing that hasn’t changed since my childhood is the dullness of a winter Monday, and here’s a snippet of Plumpton’s card on Monday February 7th 1977 to prove it. No big name horses, just hard working people doing their jobs and risking their necks for a paltry riding fee. I bet none of them would have swapped it for anything.