David Elsworth, born and raised in Salisbury, announced his retirement after seven decades of racing.
The legendary horse racer announced on Wednesday, December 15, that he will not be renewing his training license next month.
Considering his career, which was shortly after his 15th Desert Orchid, Persian Punch, In The Groove, Rhyme ‘N’ Reason and Barnbrook Again.
“I know I’m so successful in this business because I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great people and great horses,” said Elsworth.
“I was surrounded by a lot of people and they shared our ambitions, hopes and the success we had.”
David Elsworth grew up with his grandparents in Salisbury, near Whitsbury, where he “stumbled” into the sport first as a jockey and then as an assistant coach.
He left school on December 15, 1954 at the age of 15 with no “firm ambition to become something”.
“I was lucky enough to stumble upon something in life, the racing business. I didn’t have any firm ambitions to become something, “he said.
“I just had to make a living and do something, and I felt like I would love to work with horses, so I rode my bike to a local farm and applied for a job – and when you got to the merry-go-round, you started to get faster – and I enjoyed it. It was more of a way of life than a job – it’s just something you do. ”
His career began as an apprentice jockey on January 3, 1955 under the Scot Alec Stewart Kilpatrick at Richard Hannon Racing.
“They watch and learn and they make mistakes – and I have certainly made a lot of mistakes and you try to get the job done the best you can,” he said.
“I didn’t think I was preparing for a coach – you just do what you have to do. It was never a chore – it was just a way of life. I’ve been playing around and it’s all a game – you’re just trying to get one horse to run around faster than another. ”
David Elsworth had many career highlights, including Desert Orchid’s four King George VI Chase wins and a Gold Cup, Rhyme ‘N’ Reason Grand National win, Barnbook Again’s two-time Champion Chase wins out of a total of nine Cheltenham Festival wins for the trainer and an Irish 1000 Guineas win with In The Groove.
But he describes how he rode his first winner in October 1957 at the age of 17 at the Cowley Novices’ Hurdle on Ratrowan as a “great thrill”.
“If you asked me the next day what was the greatest moment, that was it. But then we made progress and moved on, “he said.
“When we started training, we (Heighlin) won the Triumph Hurdle very early on when I was at Lucnam Park in Wiltshire. That was a big deal to win the Triumph Hurdle – that was my first Cheltenham winner.
“I used the phrase ‘ride the bike as fast as you can’ and then you get other landmarks because I couldn’t describe it better.”
Elsworth will not escape racing in his retirement and he said he will not travel the world and an autobiography is “too much like hard work”.
He said: “At least I’ll get one of those badges with which you can go on course as a retired coach – as long as I don’t have to pay!”
Newmarket colleague Sir Mark Prescott remembered Elsie, Elsworth’s “God-given gift”.
Prescott said, “It is absolutely no coincidence that the two most charismatic horses have been trained by both rules by the same man over the past 30 years – Desert Orchid and Persian Punch. That’s all you need to know. ”
He has known David Elsworth since the 1970s when he was training at Devizes.
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