A day at the races with Freddie Starr

A DAY at the races… there’s been a few over the past 20 years; Exeter, Taunton, Newton Abbot and occasionally Wincanton.

In all those years there are two stand out men who were always in my camera lens – A.P. McCoy and Martin Pipe. Local trainer Martin Pipe was always in the news; he was one of the most successful trainers in the country and he gave up his time for the regional press.

On many occasions I’ve stood at the end of the gallops, listening to Mr Pipe as he talked horses with his team of stable staff as they galloped the animals. Keeping still was very important, any sudden movement would spook the horses and throw the rider, nervous stuff to be honest.

In 1994 Minihoma won the Grand National. This was great news for the West Country and trainer Martin Pipe but the added bonus was that the owner was Freddie Starr, and he flew down in a helicopter for the celebrations in the yard.

It was a funny situation with Freddie larking around for the cameras, even kissing his horse quite passionately – he had just won quite a bit of money.

What can I say about A.P. McCoy? The best in the country, nearly always there at the finish and champion jockey a number of times. If I was putting a fiver on the nose of a horse I would make sure AP was the jockey; it seemed to me that AP only ever rode the top horses.

Woodmead Halls

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