Saturday, 17 November 2012

Champion Jockey

I have written before about Richard McIlhagga who lived in Dublin in the mid-20th Century and who bred race horses. I have often found references to him in Irish Newspapers and in Ireland he is probably best remembered for winning the Irish Grand National with King's Sprite in 1971.

The internet site has just added British Newspapers 1710-1950 to its genealogical resources, where we can find four references to Richard McIlhagga in the newspapers of South-West England. Three are only notices of runners, two in the Western Morning News in 1949 and one in the Gloucester Echo in 1950. The fourth however is more interesting. It is in the Western Morning News for 21 April 1949 where we find the following report:

'Mr R. McIlhagga's five-year old grey Impeccable, ridden by Gordon Richards, was one of the easiest winners of the City and Suburban Handicap in the history of the race at Epsom yesterday.
After being among the leaders for a mile Impeccable took the lead in the last two furlongs and Liberty Light, who had taken second place, was unable to get in an effective challenge, Impeccable winning by three lengths.....
Mr. McIlhagga who is a Dublin manufacturer who has won many races with the horses he runs in England... said after the race: "I hope that one of my future wins on this course will be in the Derby in 1952 with Impeccable's full brother, now only a foal".'

We have no record of Richard McIlhagga ever winning the Derby, but at least we have this report of one of his horses being ridden by Gordon Richards, perhaps the most famous champion jockey of the 20th Century.

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