Racing world remembers Lord Oaksey

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  • Headed by the Princess Royal, the racing world attended a service of thanksgiving for the life of Lord Oaksey at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, last Wednesday (7 November).

    Lord Oaksey, who was Horse & Hound’s esteemed racing correspondent “Audax” for 29 years up to 1988, died on 5 September aged 83.

    His immense contributions as a sporting writer and broadcaster, as an amateur steeplechase rider and as founder, former chairman and president of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) were warmly praised in addresses by Sir Edward Cazalet and H&H columnist Brough Scott.

    Sir Edward said John Oaksey, formerly John Lawrence, had bridged the gap between the “talkers and the doers” and he was unrivalled in articulating the glorious triumphs and shattering disappointments of racing.

    His work for the IJF, he added, would earn Lord Oaksey a kind of immortality. Lord Oaksey believed that if you enjoyed privilege, you should make a contribution to those less fortunate.

    Brough Scott said that as a rider, John Oaksey was an immense enthusiast and, although not a stylist, he had “improved with age”. He was still winning races at 46. He recalled John’s great sense of humour and his renown as an after dinner speaker.

    John Francome — a Channel 4 racing colleague and the new president of the IJF — read from John Oaksey’s famous report on his own narrow defeat on Carrickbeg in the 1963 Grand National, by Pat Buckley on Ayala — a “dream that only became a nightmare seconds before the dawn…”

    There were also readings by his grandchildren Alfie Bradstock and Calypso and Oliver Lawrence.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (15 November 2012)

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