Co-owner Alan Waller salutes Lord Oaksey
ALAN WALLER describes Lord Oaksey, who died on Wednesday at the age of 83, as ‘a great ambassador for racing and the nicest man you could ever wish to meet’.
Waller, who lives in Ashton Keynes, has been involved in small racing syndicates with Lord Oaksey for almost 25 years.
Last year, they enjoyed their greatest success when Carruthers won one of the major prizes in steeplechasing, the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury.
Sadly, Lord Oaksey was too unwell to travel and missed seeing his colours carried to success in a race he had won 53 years earlier as the amateur rider John Lawrence.
Oaksey had been a top amateur jockey and then forged an even more successful career as the pre-eminent racing writer of his day. Afterwards he would become a popular Channel 4 TV racing broadcaster.
He was also responsible for founding the Injured Jockeys Fund almost 50 years ago.
Waller said: “I was first pushed around the racecourses of Hurst Park and Ally Pally in London at the age of three so I have been going racing for 60 years and for as long as I can remember I read John’s articles in the Telegraph and the Horse and Hound. He was a great hero of mine.
“It is always a worry when you get the chance to meet your hero, but he was the nicest man you could ever wish to meet.
“Almost 25 years ago, we went to his son-in-law Mark’s stables to buy our first horse. I was so looking forward to meeting John but he was not around.
“Then we saw him jogging back to the stables. He must have been almost 60 even then but he was coming in from a run. He was always very sharp, mentally and physically.
“Being in his company was always great fun. He had absolutely no side to him and never minded telling stories against himself. There was the occasion after he had been caught close home in the 1963 Grand National when riding Carrickbeg and months later a punter stopped him and said: ‘I remember you. You’re the bugger who got tired before the horse!’ “But I think his greatest gift to racing is the Injured Jockeys Fund. No one involved in the sport has not been touched in some way by that organisation.”
The Oaksey syndicate involving Waller will continue – with Lady ‘Chicky’ Oaksey at the helm.
“We still have Carruthers and two more of the offspring of the dam Plaid Maid which we first shared all those years ago,” said Waller.
“There is talk of a race being run in Lord Oaksey’s memory at Cheltenham or Newbury. If it is a three-and-a-half mile handicap chase, preferably run on soft ground, I am sure we will be there with Carruthers.”