31 years? A very civil partnership

There can't be too many relationships in racing that last for of all 31 years, but one that did was that between Newmarket trainer Mark Prescott and Yorkshire jockey George Duffield.

Between the years of 1973 and 2004 Duffield was the stable jockey in Prescott's yard, riding over 800 winners for his retainer. Whilst few of those may have been horses of the highest class, the partnership had many notable accomplishments. In 1980 a 2yo horse called Spindrifter was in the yard. That season Spindrifter ran pretty much every fortnight, a total of 19 races in all, finishing in the first two in them all except for a race run in dire conditions on the last day of the season.

Duffield piloted Spindrifter to 10 consecutive wins, and a further three victories saw the two equal the record of 13 wins in a season which had been set by the Barry Hills trained Nagwa just five years earlier. In the middle of that run was a six furlong race at Pontefract, the Youngsters Stakes, a race now regularly run as the Spindrifter Conditions Stakes.

What was it that made the two so successful together? Prescott said that having a stable jockey gave him peace of mind. But he also set out what he expected. "Stable jockeys should have a sense of responsibility, which I don't think all jockeys have. If the yard is having a bad spell, he shouldn't be thinking that he's missed two winners for someone else at Pontefract. He knows that when the horses come right he will be on them and that if a good horse comes along he won’t be ditched in favour of the latest flavour of the month."

On occasion, owners would ask for a different jockey from Duffield, but Prescott always made clear his loyalty to his stable jockey. He says, "When that's happened, I've always said to the owner ‘that's absolutely fine, but the horse won’t run from this yard’."

Duffield put the success of their relationship down to the trust they had for each other. "We had a great working relationship and bags of respect for each other," he said. "He trusted me impeccably, not just in my ability to ride carrying out his orders, but he trusted me not to stop anything. He knew I would try hard on everything."

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