Sunday, July 28, 2013

Thank you Bill Scott

Some of you might have noticed that there was a race at Newmarket on Friday night called the 'Thank You Bill Scott Median Auction Maiden Stakes'.  Unusual title, but a very, very good one.  Bill Scott has featured in this blog previously.  Maybe two or three years ago, Terry Clement (who trained for years in Calder Park Stables in Hamilton Road, but who has not renewed his license this year) had a minor heart attack, after which I was naturally delighted to see him back in circulation when I bumped into him at the July Course one afternoon.

Anyway, pleased to see Terry fit and healthy again, I took a photograph of him at the races, in which he was standing next to Bill Scott at the gateway by the pre-parade ring through which the horses arrive.  Bill was there because that was his job: for many years he manned the horse gate at every meeting there and at the Rowley Mile too.  And he manned it with great good humour, helpfulness and friendliness, and a bag of sweets.  Sadly, though, this year has seen Bill no longer at his post: last year ended with no sign of retirement, but tragically an unexpected bereavement over the winter led to him calling it a day.  So come this season, Bill had moved on and nobody had bade him farewell.

Anyway, while the rest of us were sitting around thinking that it was sad that Bill had retired and we hadn't wished him farewell, William Haggas did something about it, sponsoring a race in Bill's honour and arrangeing for him to have a surprise farewell.
William asked for contributions to the project; and unsurprisingly he found plenty of people wanting to join him in expressing his/our appreciation of a good man.  Last Friday was the day of the race - and it proved to be a very special occasion, which clearly meant a lot to Bill.  And it meant a lot to me to be be part of it.

Happily, the race was won by local connections.  This sounds strange as Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum owned the winner and Charles Hills trains the horse in Lambourn; but neither owner nor trainer were there, which meant that Newmarket stalwarts Angus Gold and Richard Hills were the people receiving the prizes from Bill, along with their jockey Paul Hanagan.  And then, just so that Bill would have further reason to remember the evening and so that racegoers would know what was going on, I gave a brief explanatory speech which put on-lookers in the picture about who Bill is and why he has been such a big part of Newmarket racing life, after which John Gosden presented him with a memento.

The only shame was that William Haggas, the driving force behind the project, couldn't be there: he had gone up to Yorkshire as his mother had been unexpectedly taken ill and taken into hospital.  But William's good work had already been done by this time, as he had organised a wonderful send-off for a good man, who otherwise, because of the suddenness of his retirement during the off-season, might otherwise have managed to exit stage left without realising how much he had been appreciated and how much he is missed.

Another nice thing about the evening was that I had Anthony with me, as he was here for a couple of days, and he and I were able to enjoy a lovely evening in idyllic conditions.  There was some very interesting racing, with plenty of nice horses on view as well as plenty of nice people.  One of the most interesting horses was Spreadable, owned by our friend Gerry Chesneaux.  Spreadable (pictured here, both in the parade ring and then going down under Seb Sanders) made his debut in Bill Scott's race and, although he finished last, I'd say that he should do OK eventually: he's by Duke Of Marmalade whose stock tend to progress well, he looks to me as if he has the makings of a nice horse, and he's with a trainer (Nick Littmoden) whose modus operandi (like mine) is to try to get horses to improve as they go on, rather than to peak early in life.


glenn.pennington said...

lovely story John - great that people care about the unknown heroes.

Brian Jones said...

Good to see you add another one to your Breeders total John, in the last today at Carlisle, was a very game and gutsy performance,

Well Done.

John Berry said...

Cheers Brian. That's terrific - I hadn't looked at Carlisle (stayed on ATR all afternoon) so hadn't even seen that he was running. They'd had a load of rain up there and it would have worked out perfectly for him, as he's clearly better on a wet track, but only runs on one rarely. So pleased. Puts further pressure on Roy to up his game!

Brian Jones said...

he's in the 5.00 tomorrow too if it goes ahead [inspection] and he runs..

Rita said...

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Brian Jones said...

Impressive winner today, 7L under 10st 2lb,

lets hope that's two breeders premiums!

John Berry said...

I wish. Winning breeder gets a warm glow of satisfaction inside, but that's about it, I'm afraid!