THIS IS FINDON VILLAGE — created by Valerie Martin, contains scenes from her home village of Findon, West Sussex, U.K.
THE JOSH GIFFORD FACT FILE
Copyright Valerie Martin 2003
These are some well-known facts about the Findon trainer, Josh Gifford — and some not so well-known ones too.
JOSHUA GIFFORD born on 3rd August 1941 — within sight of a racecourse.
APPRENTICESHIP It is a long, long time since a rather chubby Sam Armstrong apprentice came to Findon and knocked on Captain Ryan Price's door to sign on for the winter season's racing. Josh Gifford learned to swear in Findon and gained a lot of bad habits too... so many so, that Sam Armstrong stopped him visiting the Sussex stable the following year.
When his weight went up to ten stone he had to do something because weight was a problem with flat racing. Eventually he received a telephone call from Findon —
"Come down here boy. You'll never get anywhere sitting on your arse"
barked Captain Ryan Price down the line.
FIRST RIDE His first ride over big fences was back in 1962. His first National chance came on Siracusa when the horse's regular jockey, Johnnie East, was injured. He was unseated from Siracusa at the ditch going to Beechers Brook for the second time.
EARLY DISQUALIFICATION On 5th March 1966, along with eight other jockeys, he was disqualified for taking the wrong course at Market Rasen.
CAREER AS A JOCKEY He was a leading apprentice on the Flat with victories in the November Handicap and Chester Cup but switched to jumping after growing too heavy.
Four times National Hunt Champion Jockey. Won numerous big races for trainer Captain Ryan Price of the Downs Stables — from whose Findon yard he eventually trained himself.
The view over the Findon countryside from the Fox Down track in April 2004. The Findon Gallops and hurdles can be plainly seen in the middle distance.
SOME OF THE NOTABLE WINNERS INCLUDE
(1961 County Hurdle),
TOTAL NUMBER OF WINNERS AS A JOCKEY 641 winners during a 14 year riding career. Rode in some thirty races over National fences — only failed to finish the course on four occasions.
BOOING AND JEERING. He was subjected to booing and jeers after storming to victory on the Ryan Price-trained Hill House in the infamous running of the 1967 Schweppes Gold Trophy at Newbury.
MARRIED Met his future wife at a horse show — Althea Roger-Smith. Tied the knot in 1969
LAST RIDE AT AINTREE This was in April 1970 on Gay Trip — and finished seventh
Nick in 1995
CHILDREN Kristina and Nicholas. His son Nick, took over the Findon yard, when Josh retired. He was a successful point-to-point trainer. His daughter Kristina Cook is one of Britain's finest three-day event riders.
LAST WIN AS A JOCKEY Final winning ride was on Pendil in Plumpton's John Hare Handicap Hurdle on 3Oth March, 1970. Five days later, after completing the Grand National course on Assad, he stunned the racing world by announcing his retirement at the age of twenty-eight. Within a week of his retirement, however, he began training at the Downs Stables perched on the Findon Downs.
CAREER AS A TRAINER First licence granted in 1970.
The diet for the Findon trained horses was fit for a king — a mixture of corn, nuts, boiled barley, linseed bran and every evening plenty of carrots were handed out to everyone.
FIRST WINNER AS TRAINER Within a month of getting his licence — Cheers Echo in April 1970. He sent out winners on a regular basis.
In time some sixty thoroughbreds were housed at the Downs Stables in Findon with between 80-100 owners. The telephone was always ringing with enquiring owners checking to see how their horses were fairing and if, and when, they were expected to be ready to next run and win.
GRAND NATIONAL WINNER Aldaniti in 1981. He is one of the very few racing personalities to have been represented on the big screen, Edward Woodward portraying him in the film Champions.
FIRST WINNER AT THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL Amazingly, he waited until 1988 before managing to send out his first winner, Golden Ministrel the Cheltenham Festival. It took him 17 years to train a Cheltenham Festival winner but when he did it, he had three at the same meeting.
QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE WINNER Deep Sensation in 1993.
Henry Bishop (the racehore).
SOME OF THE NOTABLE WINNERS TRAINED INCLUDE
|Approaching (1978 Hennessy Cognac
Kybo (1978 Ascot Hurdle & Christmas Hurdle),
Henry Bishop (1980 SGB Chase ),
Royal Judgement (1982 Compton Chase),
Earthstopper (1983 Mandarin Chase ),
Door Latch (1985 & 1986 SGB Chase),
Our Fun (1985 Castleford Chase),
Ballyhane (1988 SGB Chase),
French Goblin (1988 Long Walk Hurdle),
Saffron Lord (1988 H & T Walker Gold Cup),
Midnight Count (1988 Castleford Chase),
Pragada (1988 Coral Golden Hurdle Final),
Vodkatini (1988 Grand Annual Chase).
Golden Minstrel (Kim Muir Chase 1988),
Envopak Token (1989 Sun Alliance Chase),
Paddyboro (1989 Mildmay Of Flete Chase),
Comandante (1990 Arkle Chase),
Foyle Fisherman (1991 Mildmay Of Flete Chase),
Bradbury Star (1993 & 1994) Mackeson Gold Cups),
Topsham Bay (1993 Whitbread Gold Cup),
FAVOURITE RACECOURSES Sandown and Newbury.
Josh and Althea at the Findon Flower Show
FAVOURITE PASTIME If he had not earned a living from his life-long involvement with horses, it seems more than likely he would have chanced his arm in the world of cricket.
Downs Stables 1997
RETIRED FROM TRAINING Rumours abounded in recent years about retirement. Josh Gifford MBE eventually retired after the 2002/3 National Hunt Season and handed the reins over to this son, Nick.
His last runner was Skycab at Sandown with Leighton Aspell riding. Skycab looked a beaten horse but when Wave Rock stumbled and ejected Richard Johnson, Skycab came into his own. He powered up the hill and the crowd was up on their feet and the roof just about lifted off the grandstand as the gelding passed the winning post and brought this great man's glittering fifty year racing career to an end.
It is now up to Nick to fill his father's shoes at the Findon racing yard.
Continue if you would like to read about Josh's daughter in Kristina — Fact File.
THIS IS FINDON VILLAGE —www.findonvillage.com is a continually growing record created exclusively for documenting life in Findon.
Do let me know of anything you hear about Findon - not too controversial. Please note that opinions expressed in the Findon Chronicles are not necessarily reflective of my own thoughts.... but sometimes they are!