Catterick Races in the 70s and 80s
I continue my look back at personal memories of days at the races in Yorkshire in the 70s and 80s with that friendly dual purpose course at Catterick.
Indeed with the exception of a trip to Ripon when still in a pram Catterick was the venue for my first ever visit to a racetrack. For the record that was on Wednesday August 11th 1976 at the age of 16. The racecard that day cost just 15p. The first race that day was an apprentice handicap won by Craigellachie and trained by KC Whitehead at Malton. The jockey was a young Jimmy Bleasdale who became one of the top riders in the the north. Other more experienced riders that day included Eddie Hide, Mark Birch, Jonny Seagrave and Tony Ives.
Amongst the winning trainers that day were Ben Hanbury, Barry Hills and Ryan Jarvis whilst jockey ML (Taffy) Thomas rode a double.
My first jumps meeting at Catterick was on 30th October 1976 where Sea Wanderer trained by AS Percival and ridden by V Percival won the opener. The feature event was the WL Hector Christie handicap Chase won by the Ken Oliver trained Tregarron ridden by Colin Tinkler. Second was Dunrobin and third was My Friendly Cousin. Tregarron was 3rd favourite for the 1976 Grand National won by Rag Trade who beat Red Rum that day.
Another notable winner that day was Current Gold who won the Novice Chase beating the Dickinson trained Tommy Joe.
I returned to Catterick for the New Years Day meeting of 1977 when the feature Zetland handicap chase was one by Merrybent trained by Denys Smith.
In August of that year winners included the Reg Hollinshead trained Pams Gleam and the feature race was won by Calspea trained by N Vigors at Lambourn.
My first love has always been jump racing so it was great to be back In October 1977 to see the legendary Red Rum compete in the Hector Christie. Rummy finished fourth that day behind Bar Rock trained by Jac Hanson.with Cumbria second. The talented Even Melody refused to start that day.
At the following New Years Day meeting I recall backing the Steve Norton trained Fogbound at 25/1 as he promptly won the 3 mile handicap hurdle. Due to the track being only just over a mile in circumference 3 mile events involve the runners passing the winning pots 3 times during the race. I seem to recall a young Neal Doughty (of Hallo Dandy fame) falling foul of that one day when he jumped the last in the straight in full flight and rode out his mount vigorously to the line only to watch in dismay as the rest of the field galloped past for the final circuit!
No doubt Neal got plenty of advise that day from the likes of Ron Barry, Jonjo O’Neill, Nigel Tinkler and Ridley Lamb who were regular riders at Catterick in those days. Tragically Ridley Lamb was to lose his life in an accident at Seahouses harbour soon after.
1979 seemed to be a vintage year for jumpers at Catterick. Winners included the high class Captain John who became one of Michael Dickinsons famous five and Sunset Cristo who beta Peterhof trained by Andy Scott in the Vaux Breweries Novice Chase. The first 3 home in the Cocked Hat farm Foods chase in Vovember 1979 were Bobjob (Brockbank/ JJ ONeill), Tommy Joe and Katmanadu.
The Novice Chase that day was won by Fairy King ridden in his own confident style by Tommy Carmody. Fairy King became a top class chaser and following his early demise was replaced by none other than Forgive N Forget. His trainer Jimmy Fitzgerald enjoyed a treble that day completed by Hippo and Prelko.
Fond memories of racing in my youth. If you have your own memories of racing at Catterick in the era I would be delighted to hear from you.