Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…
RACING is a sport which definitely runs in the family over the years – and it looks certain to do so if and when the current foremost husband and wife team in jockeydom produce offspring.
Tom Marquand rode his 1000th career winner in Britain, Five Towers, at Windsor as recently as September 4, while his wife of some eighteen months standing, Hollie Doyle, is looking to finish in front of him in the current season’s jockey championship race. Amazingly enough, these two – whose star guest at their wedding in March, 2022, was an inflatable horse – rode the same number of winners each – 91 – last season when they finished joint second behind William Buick in the title race, a not unlikely outcome this campaign.
Family relationships in racing have also been in the news lately as a result of the exploits of an American clan in the second race at Saratoga last week, a $30,000 maiden claimer race in which things were kept well and truly en famille, as Katie Davis rode the winner, Bon Adieu, beating brother Dylan on Mim into second place, with her husband, Trevor, third on Embraceable Gal, and her sister Jackie on Sweet Liberty finishing 4th.
Katie, Dylan and Jackie are offspring of former jockey, Robbie Davis.
I think this may be a genuine record for the Davis clan as the closest achievement I can find to this happened back on November 17, 1994, at Australian track, Ballarat, where Patrick Payne rode a winner as his sister, Therese, came home second, ahead of sister Maree in third – with brother Andrew and sister Bernadette both on also-rans in the same race.
On May 30, 1981 regularly red-shirted trainer Jack Berry, rode at Kempton, while his wife, Jo, and sons Alan and Martin rode at Ayr.
Perhaps the first husband and wife to take each other on in a high profile jump race were Robert and Theresa Elwell, who both lined up in
Cheltenham’s Audi Grand Prix chase in May, 1988 – Theresa and her mount, Mister Skip finishing runners-up as Robert pared company with White Paper at the 14th.
Going back some way further, in 1879 four brothers from the Irish Beasley family raced in the Grand National, with Tommy 3rd on Martha, Willie 8th on Lord Marcus, Harry 9th on Turco – as Johnny had to pull up Victor II.
Twin jockey brothers Michael and Richard Hills suffered family falls together on one occasion – when Michael came a cropper at Ripon, where his saddle slipped and he came down – while, many miles away at Lambourn, at the very same time, Richard also took a tumble and broke his arm – falling off of his bicycle!
Equine families are all important in racing, of course, but few four legged stars of the game have boasted better familial credentials than the greatest jockey legend certainly of my time – Lester Piggott, whose father was a jockey and trainer, his mother twice won the Newmarket Town Plate race, his uncle, Fred Rickaby, rode three Classic winners; grandfather Ernest the small matter of three Grand Nationals, and great grandfather Tom Cannon won the Derby, while great great grandfather, John Barham Day rode 16 Classic winners, and trained seven.
Now, that’s what I call a proper racing family affair!
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