Manor House Farm

Manor House Farm

Sawtry-based Dale Peters is one of the most successful trainer-jockeys in the game. He rode his first winner in 2009, recently clocked up a half-century of successes in the saddle and took over the running of his Manor House Farm yard from father Michael in 2014. As well as overseeing his expanding operation (he has around 12  to run this year), he rides most of his own runners and has developed a fruitful association with Tommy and Kelly Morgan. This year, he got off to a cracking start, with four winners before Christmas – travelling the country to venues as far removed as Barbury and Alnwick – taking him to the top of the riders table. I popped in to see him last month, watched his horses work and talked about what motivates him and why he’s doing so well in both aspects of his role.

Natalie giving Done A Runner a bath!

Natalie giving Done A Runner a bath!

“When the horses come in, we don’t leave the place,” laughs Dale at my first question, about how he copes with the workload. “Nick Pearce told me that he packed up because he couldn’t do it all,” he continues. But Dale is lucky that Manor House Farm is a true family operation. Dad Michael farms, Mum Denise does the books and runs the riding school with sister Kelsey, while girlfriend Natalie Richardson gets up at 6.00am, rides first lot, goes to work as a special needs teacher at nearby Marshfield school, before returning for evening stables!

And he’s grateful for the help. “We’ve got 12 in this year,” continues Dale, “And we’re full. Last year we had seven or eight and I said I wouldn’t have more than ten. But (owners) Toby (Hunt), Andy (Dickins) and John (Balding) keep going to the sales and buying horses!” Funeral director Toby Hunt is Dale’s best-known owner and has three in training this year: Done A Runner, Poetry Emotion and Why Lie.  “Toby’s like another Dad, we’re best friends and he’s the first person I’d ring if I was in trouble,” says Dale, while admitting, “The lads in the changing room had a laugh when they found out I was sponsored by a funeral director!

Soon after I arrive, Dale heads off to the gallops on unraced youngster Equus Secretus, alongside Sam Boalsch – “One of my best mates and as good a rider as I’ve had here, but he has no interest in race-riding” – on Bob Keown. Well, I say gallops, but as Dale trotted past the steaming muckheap where I was waiting, he turned round and said, “This is farmer training Jake!” Apart from a four-and-a-half furlong woodchip canter, which he and Michael put in a couple of years ago, and three home-made schooling fences, Dale uses the edges of the family fields – which run alongside the A1 – to work his horses. Luckily, given that the Peters farm is close to the edge of the fens, there are plenty of hills to gallop up and down.

Michael Peters farms between 400 and 500 acres, a mix of arable land and sheep pasture. “Dad’s been here all his life,” confirms Dale, “And I’m fourth generation.” However, at present, Dale doesn’t intend to follow his father into the game. “I’m not interested in arable,” he admits. “One day, and that’s me done for the year. I like doing the sheep though – I shear them and I enjoy it, but it clashes with the horses and I’d rather stick with them!”

Dale on Equus Secretus and Sam on Bob Keown

Dale on Equus Secretus and Sam on Bob Keown

Indeed, Dale almost became – not a farmer or a trainer-jockey – but a professional footballer. “Mum wanted me to be a footballer,” he tells me, “But Dad wanted me to go into racing. When I was 14, I had to make a decision. I was on the books at Ipswich – I haven't got a clue what they saw in me – but it was a long way to travel. Mum would have driven me and people say I’d have been good enough, but I don’t talk myself up. Looking back, I wish I’d given it a go – I regret not knowing whether I’d have been good enough. Dale’s other great regret – when he was aged 17 and working for Martin Bosley – was turning down the chance to go and work for Nicky Henderson. “You always wonder,” he reminisces, “And I hate that.”

However, it seems from the stories he tells that Dale was always destined to be a jockey. “When I was young, we had a Shetland,” he recalls. “I put a bridle on him and he went mad. My mate thought it had killed me, but I sat there pissing myself, thinking ‘I love it!’ I loved racing,” he continues candidly, “But didn’t do any pony club. I had one season pony racing but I was rubbish. It was embarrassing – I cringe thinking about it!”

So, from Martin Bosley’s, Dale returned to home to work for his father, who had started combining training with farming again after a break, buying Petrouge and Cosi Celeste from Doncaster. “Dad’s last runner in 1997 won, then Cosi Celeste – his first runner back – won in 2007,” Dale tells me proudly. And it was the latter who provided Dale’s first experience of race riding in 2008. “We fell at the eighth at Cottenham,” he recalls. “We turned a somersault. Dad said, ‘You’ll either love it, or you’ll never want to do it again… but I walked back with a smile on my face. I wasn’t even supposed to ride it,” he adds. “Tim Lane was. I was riding in flat boots, Dad’s britches and so much lead we had to rob a church!”

Dale’s first winner came a year later, on Rare Gold at Brafield-on-the-Green. “It was unbelievable,” he says with a grin. “I thought we’d win going in, but didn’t know whether I’d be good enough. We belted the second last, but still won easily.” Half a century of victories later, Dale remains modest about his talents. “I never thought I’d ride so many winners,” he confesses. “I’ve been training them too for about seven years, thought they’ve only been running in my name for the last three. This year, I’ve got the best staff and the best team of horses I’ve had, by a long way. Each year, I try to buy better – I don’t buy for the sake of buying.” And Dale takes it seriously, too. “When I get a Doncaster catalogue, you won’t see me for two weeks,” he chuckles, before adding, “I’m lucky with my owners – they normally buy what I ask, subject to budget…”

As well as his own horses, Dale rides for brother and sister Tommy and Kelly Morgan, and Katie (no relation) Morgan. Frank as ever, he admits, “I ride Tommy’s better than my own. I know everything that goes on with mine, and sometimes you can know too much…” So, going back to my first question, how does he combine running a yard and riding most of them, as well as for other trainers? “Kelly brings her horses here for me to sit on and I go to Tommy’s two or three times a year. I try to plan it. But everyone here’s great and I couldn’t do it without them, especially Natalie, and Mum who does all the books.” Denise chips in at this point, “And I feed Dido at one in the morning!”

“I prefer riding to training,” responds Dale in answer to another question about how long he can continue his dual role. “I love my riding. I went to Galway last year and rode out for Willie Mullins – I learnt tons, and that’s why my horses are so much more forward this year. Plus, Tommy and I talk all the time. You never stop learning. I just try and be as good as I can, improve each season and keep my head down.” This year, Dale’s main ambition in the saddle is to gain his ‘Category B’ licence so he can ride Decade Player in the Aintree Foxhunters, even though Denise confides, “He promised me when he started that he’d never ride round Aintree.” Dale ignores her. “I can’t wait,” he enthuses, “On paper, Decade Player’s the best horse I’ve ridden – winning the two-miler on him at Stratford was the best day of my career.” And the horse with the most unfulfilled potential? “Realt Ag Leimt had the most ability, but he bled, and couldn’t show it on course.”

“I’m 26 now,” Dale goes on, “And I want to go down the training route. I’d love to be buying and selling youngsters like the Laceys, but you don’t need to spend much money if you’re clever.” Having the right owners helps, and Dale seems to have formed a strong bond with Toby Hunt, Andy Dickins and John Balding, as well as Dido’s owner Bob Fox, who had horses with Dale’s father. Dale explains how the association with Toby Hunt came about. “He rang me up about the ride on Point Proven and, as he was based nearby at Barnwell, he gave me a chance with Nightcap Jack, who was a real nightmare. Now I train all of his.”

The season so far has been eventful for Dale both on and off the track. His first winner, All The Sevens at Cottenham, was only confirmed in the stewards room after a spot of argy-bargy with Sam Davies-Thomas. “Sam’s went left and mine followed,” laughs Dale. “It was my first ride of the year and I should have pulled my whip through, but if his horse was good enough, he’d have passed me.” “Sam called him a rude word,” interjects Natalie, “But Dale just said ‘unlucky’!” Dale is keen to play the incident down. “Sam and I are quite competitive, but he’s a good lad and he rides well,” he adds in conclusion.

More seriously, the hay barn at Manor House Farm caught fire in January, the day Wither Or Not won at Sheriff Hutton. “We don't know what happened,” admits Natalie, “But hope it was an accident. We had to get all the horses out and put them in the school – they were very good and lots of owners came down to help. We normally go to the Fox & Hounds in Great Gidding to celebrate a winner – luckily we didn't go that night, as there’s no phone signal there!” Dale takes up the story. “I’d gone to bed at 9.15 and was woken up by what sounded like fireworks going off. Then I heard Mum screaming up the stairs, ‘The barn’s on fire.’ It was so bright, it was like daylight, and the heat was unbelievable. And asbestos was flying everywhere – I’d never heard anything like the sound of it exploding. If we hadn’t been here, we’d have been screwed,” admits Dale before concluding, “No one got hurt and the horses were fine – everything else is replaceable, but you can’t replace lives.”

I put Dale on the spot by asking what he’d do if he was in charge of the PPA for a day, but he’s quick to respond. “Pointing’s changed, Dad’s way of training was different to mine and – rightly or wrongly –I’d have races over more distances. I’d keep three-mile races because that’s pointing, but one per card over two-and-a-half is a good idea, as is going down the bumper route. And I’d have one race per card with no penalties. One penalty is OK, but I don't agree with cumulative penalties. Done A Runner’s not up to Open class and you think you’ve found the ideal race, only to find you’re penaltied out.”

He’s on a roll now. “My worst thing is the prize money,” Dale continues. “You pay a lot to put a horse in training and half the time the prize money doesn’t cover the cost of entry. I don’t know what to do, but it needs to be looked at – if it was £500 for a Mens Open and £300 for a Maiden, then it would cover your costs. Getting new owners is hard and prize money is a problem. They ask ‘What am I running for?’ and the answer is £120!” He’s got an interesting suggestion for profit sharing from the more popular meetings. “Look at Easter – they’re always rammed. One Easter at Dingley, there was so much traffic that the boxes couldn’t get in, and they had to put the races back. Maybe you could take a percentage of the profits and put it back in. If everyone put the same percentage in, that would be fair.”

The day of my visit coincided with Paul Nicholls’ classy chaser Wonderful Charm winning a Hunter Chase, which raised the thorny problem of professional yards running high-quality horses in these races. “He had proper pointers giving him weight,” exclaimed Dale. “I don’t mind letting the professionally trained horses run - where else do these old horses go? – and I like beating them, but on a fair playing field. Make them give us weight.” He cites the example of his beloved Realt Ag Leimt winning at Huntingdon. “If we’d gone back the next year, we’d have been giving weight away to the pro trainers, yet if Paul Nicholls came here (and saw our facilities), he’d say ‘What on earth are you doing?!’”

What Dale is actually doing is something he obviously loves. As he admits about two of the horses in the yard with a bit of character, “Whatever I say about Dido or Why Lie, if I lost them at the races…” He doesn’t need to finish the sentence. “It’s the dream,” Dale concludes about his chosen path. Wither Or Not could be the one… Or it could be Equus Secretus. He only cost £600, and he spins and bucks, but it was just his third piece of work this morning and he was very impressive. You never know…” I do know that this modest young man will continue to use his talent to make the best of what he’s got.

Lucky Seven

All The Sevens

 “He’s had mud fever since winning at Cottenham on the opening day of the season – he got a cut, which flared up, but he’s had his knee injected. He only cost £1,000 – he’s good-looking, but was lame at the sales and Charlie Swan told me to buy him. He’s a happy horse, who wants decent ground and we’re looking at Garthorpe for him next – we could run him in the two-miler at Cheltenham.”

Bob Keown

Bob Keown

Bob Keown

“Ex-Rebecca Curtis – he was second at Punchestown and is rated 125 and has only been out of the first four once in ten runs. He’s just turned nine and has been off for a couple of years. I’ve got a Club race at Clifton-on-Dunsmore in mind for him but he’ll have two or three runs max this year and go Hunter Chasing next time. He’s nothing flash at home and has only just started his work – when I was younger, I loved horses that ripped up the gallop, but now I like ones you have to take more time with.”


“Natalie can tell you – I don’t get on with him! He’s a little bugger at home and slaps you round the face with his tail. He works like an aeroplane and takes a keen grip, and you have to space his races out. He hates winter, as he’s a spring horse, but came in better this year and always runs well first time – he was second at Thorpe Lodge – and I’m keen to run him in a Hunter Chase. We may go to Cheltenham for a day out.”

Done A Runner

“He’s a superstar. He’s not the most talented and his work isn’t exciting, but he’s something else on a racecourse and he tries so hard. He’s tough – he won five last year, then was fifth at Cartmel. I always seem to get him beat! Toby (owner Toby Hunt) is clever – he places him well and knows straightaway who should ride him. He’ll start in Novice Riders races then go for a couple of Hunter Chases. I think he’s good enough for Opens, but he has to be fresh.” Fourth on his seasonal debut at Horseheath last month.

Mister Murch

Mister Murch

Mister Murch

“We bought him as a four-year-old – Dad had lost two nice horses and I loved him, so I said ‘I’ve bought him for you!’ His jumping’s never an issue at home but he’s too brave on the track, and overjumps. He’s had a few knocks since finishing second at Cottenham – last year the ground held him up, now the ground’s fine but he’s had little issues – but he worked really well at Newmarket recently.”

Poetry Emotion

“Ex-Nicky Henderson and cost us £2,000 at the May Sales. He’s narrow, but big and athletic and is an easy-moving horse. He jumps well and does everything lovely at home. Probably wants holding up.” Dale gave the lie to that last statement on his Horseheath debut when he made all and led over the last before being passed on the run-in to finish fourth!

Wither Or Not

“Half-owned by me and half by Andy Dickins. I bought him from Ireland via Bidpoint in April – Andrew Hickman told me about him. He was sold, but came back on, and I was straight on the phone! He ran eight or nine times there and was placed behind good horses. Won impressively at Sherriff Hutton and we’ll give him two more runs before freshening him up and aiming at one of the Restricted or Intermediate finals at Stratford or Cheltenham, but not both. He goes left at the fences, so we want to go left-handed, but he’s as good as we hoped, and could be better. He comes out of his races well, is thriving and looks amazing.” Unbeaten in three starts and looks a rising star of the Point-to-Point ranks.


by Jake Exelby

Gerald Bailey and TIN TACK

Holdenby trainer Gerald Bailey and his wife Caroline have long been one of the most successful training combinations in the country, but Gerald cheerfully confesses to being a dairy farmer first and a Point-to-Point trainer second! “I only learnt to ride when Caroline and I got married,” he admits. “I didn’t go charging around hunting as a boy – I had to work! I started at 16 as a motor mechanic, then when I was 20, Dad and I bought 80 acres of land. Our dairy wasn’t a family farm. I had to milk 30-40 cows a day.” And from small beginnings, Gerald now farms 400 acres at nearby Hardwick, where he has 140 head of dairy cattle and 400 Aberdeen Angus. He’s diversifying into cheese production and – as this clip shows – is an eloquent spokesman for Northamptonshire dairy farmers! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-27131277


His string of racehorses is considerably smaller at 12, but he is no less successful in his second career, with horses like the prolific winner Gunmoney, the talented Empire Builder and promising types Fearthedark and Thetalkinghorse. Gerald has been looking after the Point-to-Point side of the operation since 2007 and his yard is well known for its encouragement of owner-riders, including George Greenock, John Russell and Alex Vaughan-Jones.

The current crop follow in the footsteps of notable names such as champion amateur Johnny Greenall, Richard Hunnisett (who had 38-race winner Copper Thistle) and John’s father – and pointing stalwart – Richard Russell, of Teaplanter fame. “I love having these lads in,” confessed Caroline. “It’s a tough sport but if one of them has a bad day, there’s always someone to help.”

Gerald’s first winner as a trainer was before he married Caroline, Songella in 1993. “I got into trouble,” he admitted. “She’d pulled up at Market Rasen when she was evens favourite, then we took her to Thorpe Lodge, where she won at 4/1 under John Sharp. They had us in for improvement. Then next time out at Dingley, John rode again and we were fancied, but my ex-wife had a runner, Gillanbone, trained by John. They won at 12/1.” Try explaining that one to a cynical steward!

The couple married 19 years ago and have twin teenage sons – Michael and Robert – plus jockey Johnny and Rebecca from Gerald’s first marriage. Johnny rides mostly for Stuart Morris and Laura Thomas, “Because with our owners, we don’t have many for him to ride!” laughed his father. Gerald and the twins are Leicester City season ticket holders, so have got something to cheer about this season as well as the horses.

the string at work

Before she took out a professional licence, Caroline was responsible for the pointers and trained top class horses such as the prolific Teaplanter, a winner of 27 races – “He only cost £1,000 as a yearling, we ran him for ten years until he was 14 and he won every year” – Aintree Foxhunters winner Gunner Welburn and Secret Bay, twice runner-up in the same race. Most memorably, she saddled Castle Mane to win the Cheltenham Foxhunters in 1999. “(Owner) Charles Dixey bought him as a four-year-old so I had him from day one. We weren’t sure about Cheltenham as it was only his second season but Dad always said ‘Go while they’re right’ so after (an impressive win at) Tweseldown, we decided to go for it.”

“Dad” is Dick Saunders, who famously won the Grand National on Grittar as a 48-year-old amateur in 1982 and promptly retired from the saddle and I asked Caroline how the two emotions – training a Foxhunters winner and watching your Dad win the National – compared. “At Cheltenham, I’d never been so excited in my life, particularly as we’d had him from the beginning. But I was riding at the Oakley Point-to-Point on National day, so I didn’t see it in person!”

One of the most interesting aspects of visiting the trainers is when we sit down over a coffee and discuss the ins and outs of the sport of pointing, and this time proved no exception, with Gerald in particular holding strong views. Take sponsorship for example, with the recent news that AGA is withdrawing at the end of the year. “In the last few years, Landrover, Massey Ferguson and Volkswagen have all gone,” the trainer reminded me. “What better sport for companies like that to sponsor than Point-to-Pointing? They’re obviously not getting value for money and not being looked after well enough.”

So how would Gerald make sponsors feel welcome? “At the Pytchley (where he is Chairman), we call it horse racing, not pointing. It's a fundraiser and a day out. We have 30-40 trade stands, a silent auction, a raffle and it brings in more money than if it was just a Point-to-Point. All our sponsors get a hot lunch, we take winning connections into the sponsors tent and ask them to write a thank you. We make them feel a part of it.”


On the subject of publicity for the sport, talk turned to Victoria Pendleton and her aim to ride in the Foxhunters. Gerald was guarded. “I’ve met her and she’s charming. And she’s certainly bringing more people to the early meetings. But I think she’s doing it a year too soon. I don’t understand how a licence to ride on the flat allows someone to ride three and a quarter miles over fences at Cheltenham. I don't think it’s right for her or the other people in the race.”

John Russell – as a jockey – was keener on her challenge. “I don’t have a problem. I think it’s great for the sport to have front pages in the Racing Post. But I’d be disappointed if she just stops after the Foxhunters and all the publicity for pointing stops.” It’s clear that John admires Victoria’s bravery. “Fair play to her,” he continues. “I’d ridden for years before I rode Persian Hero in a Hunter Chase and I thought ‘Jesus Christ, they’re going a bit fast!” It’ll take a lot of savvy.”

As Caroline comes into the kitchen, Gerald puts his positive hat on! Asked what he loves about the sport, he was unequivocal. “The people. There are no enclosures – everyone pays a tenner a head, the Prime Minister could be in the next car and you’d be borrowing his corkscrew!”

Caroline agrees. “Everywhere you go, you meet like-minded people. It’s still an amateur sport – so the likes of John who work in London and ride at the weekend can compete at Open level. It doesn’t want to become too professional. I don’t think there’s a lot wrong with it. At every meeting this season I’ve had a great time!” And if one of the legends of the sport thinks so, who would disagree?

As well as talking to Gerald and Caroline and watching their horses work, I met some of the jockeys who ride the Holdenby horses. Here’s what they had to say.

John Russell

John and Gunmoney
John and Gunmoney

Insurance broker John’s introduction to race riding, on Tale Bridge in 2004  was inauspicious. “He was slow as a boat and didn’t try a yard,” recalled John uncharitably. “But he was a great jumper. I didn’t win on him – Julian Pritchard did, then said ‘That horse will never win another race!’” He didn’t. However, John’s next mount – Persian Hero – was rather better. “I had my first win on him in a Novice Riders race at Ampton in 2005. I won 12 races on him and he won 17 in total – Gunmoney has only won 13.”

This year, John has Gunmoney – already a winner twice so far at Sheriff Hutton and Horseheath – and recent Irish purchase Easythingsarebest, who is qualified for Restricteds. “He won a Maiden second time out and seems well-taught and straightforward,” confirmed his owner-rider. The association between the Russells and the Baileys goes back a long way. “Dad’s had horse with them for over 30 years,” John said. “When Gunmoney won his Restricted, it was the 100th winner they’ve trained for him.” Here’s looking to the 200th.

Alex Vaughan-Jones

Alex with Sandpipers
Alex with Sandpipers

John Russell’s five wins on Persian Hero in 2005 won him the Harley Racing Novice Riders Title, an award that stayed at the Baileys’ Holdenby yard the following year thanks to Alex Vaughan-Jones’ seven wins on Nokimover. Like John, Alex is from a family steeped in Point-to-Points. “Ollie, my Dad, rode 50-odd winners between the 1970s and the 1990s,” said the town planner. “Although I didn’t have my first ride until I was 26.”

Also like John, Alex’s first season didn’t go according to plan. “I had my second ride on Sydney Hobart in 2003. He’d won his Maiden so I rode him in a Restricted. I thought I was going to win at Garthorpe… until he unseated me at the last!” Luckily, Nokimover proved a more willing and able partner, but “He was quite a character,” admitted the jockey. “I had to get on him on the course and he wouldn’t go down the gallop. But he was tough – you could run him every week.”

Alex currently has three horses with Gerald. Fearthedark is a three-time runner-up this season, the experienced Sandpipers – “He’ll go over longer trips and won’t run in the new Mixed Opens as I’m six foot three and can’t do eleven stone seven!” – and new recruit, the ex-Irish maiden Ignite A Light.

Tom McClorey

Tom McClorey
Tom McClorey

Tom is head lad and assistant trainer in the yard, as well as taking the mounts on the horses that aren’t owner-ridden. “My background is in show jumping ponies,” Tom told me. “I travelled across the UK and abroad until the money ran out! My sister kept a horse with Tick Saunders (Caroline’s sister-in-law) so I helped out with the hunters before joining in February 2008, just as I turned 16.”

His first race ride was on Hedchester at Eyton-on-Severn in 2011. “He was a nutter and sometimes refused to start,” recalled Tom unkindly. “But when I was that age, nothing really fazed me!” His first winner was Arnold Layne for Gerald at Brocklesby a year later although he (rather disloyally!) cites his favourite horse as the Chris Henn-trained Legal Legend. “I love him,” Tom admitted. “I won three on him last year, including my first Hunter Chase at Towcester and we were fourth at Cheltenham, where George Greenock (who was third) got his own back.” (Note to readers: Tom on Legal Legend beat George on Mr Madeit into second by a short head at Thorpe Lodge. Many present thought the result was the wrong way round!)

This year, Tom has four potential mounts for Gerald; Impressive Thorpe Lodge winner Thetalkinghorse – “He broke the track record at Clifton-on-Dunsmore and I’d love him to run in a Novice Hunter Chase; Grumblers Holt – “A big rangy chaser who’s only ever been beaten by small margins”; the once-raced Tin Tack – “I broke him in last summer and he’s a lovely sort whose galloping and jumping have progressed”; and First Goodnight – “He was in training in Ireland and schooled atrociously when he first came, but we’ve hunted him and he’s improved massively.”

And what of the ambitions for this engaging 24-year-old? “I’d love to be in contention for the Midlands Area title. We’ve got some nice horses, so it would be good to be knocking on the door this year,” confessed Tom.

Missing when I visited was George Greenock, rider of Empire Builder and Mr Madeit. “George is a chicken farmer,” joked Gerald when I asked about him. “He’s got 16,000 of them and they laid over three million eggs last year!” (Note: George works for insurers Lycetts and keeps chickens as a hobby). Both his rides are owned by his mother, Countess Cathcart and Tin Tack is owned by his grandfather, Dessie Skinner. Empire Builder “Will probably go for the four-miler at Cheltenham,” according to his trainer, while hopes are high for Mr Madeit, who won two out of three last year then again on his recent reappearance at Brocklesby Park.

Of the dozen horses in Gerald’s yard, that only leaves Just Harry, another family horse owned by John Docker and on whom the rides will be shared between sons Joe and Nick. “He won first time out on the bridle in 2011, ran twice in 2012, missed 2013, ran twice in 2014 then missed 2015” recounted his patient owner. “I’ve always thought a lot of him, so now I’ve sent him to a proper trainer!” John, of course, used to own the remarkable Raise An Argument – who won three Opens at 17 – as well as 1982 Aintree Foxhunters victor Lone Soldier… the same year that Caroline’s father Dick Saunders won the Grand National on Grittar.

What strikes me as I drive off for lunch at the nearby Red Lion at Thornby is how many of these stories are interlinked. The Saunders, Docker, Russell, Vaughan-Jones, Greenock and Bailey families have all been involved in the sport across the generations, rivals on the track but friends off it, celebrating and commiserating together. And that’s what, to me, makes the sport of Point-to-Pointing so wonderful.

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