LUDLOW races will not seem the same after after Bob Davies, the long-serving clerk of the course, retired last week after 30 years in post.
He has handed over race-day duties to another former jockey, Simon Sherwood, the Bredenbury based Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Previously, in a successful riding career Davies, 67, was champion national hunt jockey three times, sharing it in 1968-69 with Terry Biddlecombe and winning the title outright in 1969-70 and 1971-72.
He also picked up one of the best spare rides in the history of the Grand National when he rode Lucius in place of the injured Dave Goulding to win the 1978 running for trainer Gordon Richards. Davies recalled: “Believe it or not I'd never ridden Lucius before the getting a leg up on in in the paddock-not even on the gallops. In fact I only sat on his back twice - once in the National and once when we posed for the photograph for the following year's Schweppes calendar.”
After this success, the following year, he picked up another spare for then fledgling trainer Nicky Henderson, this time on runner-up Zongalero, whilst overall his career in the saddle featured over 900 winners and other big-race wins including the Imperial Cup, the Black and White Gold Cup, the Grand Annual Chase and the Great Yorkshire Chase.
Davies was, he recalled recently, one of the first professional jockeys to go into racecourse management, previously studying agriculture at Wye, then part of the University of London.
Davies commented that when announcing to his then Headmaster he would become a jockey his headmaster replied: ‘No you’re not, you’ll go to university. I’ll get the forms, you fill them in.”
Whilst at college Davies remained active riding taking 203 rides one season and being effectively first jockey to West country trainer Les Kennard.
At the time the Jockey Club stewards vigilantly policed the status of amateurs and enquired how he could remain an amateur given his student status, he replied: “I get a student grant, my father pays my petrol and as the principal spends more time hunting than he does in college, he doesn’t mind.”
Davies has been clerk at Ludlow for 30 years but that is the only hat he is giving up, as he will retain the role of company secretary, race planning and receptionist at Ludlow. He will of course remain a stalwart of the local point to point scene, officiating at a number of meetings in the Welsh Border area.