Dunwoody praise for Hobbs after landmark 3,000th winner

Richard Dunwoody is strangely happy that Philip Hobbs, who achieved a remarkable milestone in saddling his 3,000th winner when Zanza scored in the Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday, still has that tea tray.

Of all the memories the three-time champion jockey has of riding for Hobbs, the two-mile Charles Dawson Retirement Novices Chase at Hereford on June 9, 1999, is etched alongside the highs of Grand National wins and partnering such equine stars as Desert Orchid and One Man.

Dunwoody was coming to the end of his illustrious career. His neck and arm injuries, which eventually caused him to retire the following year, were giving him grief.

“At the time, because of my neck, my balance wasn’t great. I was unseated off about four or five horses in a month. I thought, ‘What am I doing?’. But Premier Bay was the one that really tore at me,” said Dunwoody.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“He was a right little monkey, but the worst thing was, I’d ridden an absolutely brilliant race to get him there.

“It was one of his first times over fences. I’d got on AP’s (McCoy) inside at the second-last, I’m galloping down to the last, we’re well clear, and I saw the stride as soon as I turned into the straight.

“I’ve gone for that stride and Premier Bay said, ‘Absolutely no way am I coming up for that one’.

“He stuck the brakes on, jinked to the left and I fell clean off him. It was the most embarrassing thing ever. AP went on to win the race on Galix.”

Richard Dunwoody with One Man during his riding days
Richard Dunwoody with One Man during his riding days (Barry Batchelor/PA)

Dunwoody, 59, was brought up to learn his craft by David Nicholson, yet he considers his “two or three years” riding for Somerset handler Hobbs before retirement as “probably the most enjoyable of my whole career”.

He added: “I really enjoyed riding for him. He was extremely good to ride for, in that basically he left it to you.

“You’d know what to do, or he’d offer the advice you needed if there was a horse you hadn’t ridden before.

“He was always the same. If you came in after a big winner or came in on one that got beat, he was generally always the same.

“It took the pressure off. I was riding for owner Robert Ogden and had a retainer that ended just before I retired, but I would love to have kept going for another two or three years, just riding for Hobbsy, really.

“Mind you, I think Dicky (Richard Johnson) would have come along and jocked me off after a year anyway,” he laughed.

Richard Dunwoody and Dr Leunt win the Racing Post Chase at Kempton for Philip Hobbs in 1999
Richard Dunwoody and Dr Leunt win the Racing Post Chase at Kempton for Philip Hobbs in 1999 (Tony Harris/PA)

“To put it into context, I rode about 90 winners for him and Dicky probably rode well over 1,200 for him.”

Dunwoody was quick to pay tribute to the team at the Minehead yard after reaching the 3,000 winner landmark.

“They have a great team down there with Johnson White (assistant trainer) and Sarah (Philip’s wife) obviously helping.

“It was a long way away, but I enjoyed going down to school on the odd occasion and ride work.

“I rode a few good winners over those last few seasons, but he’s had a lot of good jockeys riding for him like Dicky, plus some of the younger lads now.

“To have 3,000 winners is a huge tally and obviously I’d like to offer my huge congratulations to Philip, Sarah and the whole team for this remarkable achievement.

“It is testament to their work ethic and ability. It is an incredible achievement – yet it should definitely have been 3,001.”

Dunwoody, who now resides near Madrid, Spain, with his partner Olivia and their daughter Milly, does visit England on occasion and chuckled at the memory of one particular visit to the yard.

“I went there about seven years ago,” he recalled. “Johnson was there, as Philip and Sarah were away racing.

“I walked into the kitchen and Johnson said, ‘I’ve got to show you something’.

“In the kitchen, there is a tray, with a picture of me, in sync, jumping the last fence at Hereford, alongside Premier Bay.

Richard Dunwoody/Premier Bay/Hereford
The Hobbs’ tea tray depicting Dunwoody and Premier Bay at Hereford in June 1999 (PA)

“I’d ridden all those winners and he’s gone and got a picture of me, on a tray, not just being unseated, but literally jumping off and flying through the air, with Premier Bay upsides.

“To think of the winners I rode for him – including one or two decent ones including Dr Leunt, who won the Racing Post Chase – and he has that.

“I would have been very disappointed if they hadn’t still got that tray – it is the only reminder he has got of me ever riding for him!

“When you talk about memories of rides, that one is pretty high. When I just look at my career, the day I fell off Premier Bay when 10 lengths clear of AP McCoy will certainly be one of the more unforgettable moments.

“I just hope Philip and Sarah celebrated with more than a nice cup of tea from that tray!”

Other Recent Posts by This Author:

Your first 30 days for just £1