Ride of my life: Biddy Wingfield Digby

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  • Biddy recalls her ride on Caesar IV at Cattistock point-to-point

    We bought Caesar in 1949. A stocky dark brown 15.2hh, he was nothing to look at. He was a habitual bucker, but he had a large, intelligent eye. He wasn’t a fast horse, dreadfully sluggish and lazy at times, but he was an amazing stayer, with an indomitable will to win.

    Our best season was in 1950 when Caesar won five races and was placed second in the other two. The ladies’ race at the Cattistock, run over a particularly sporting course, was one I especially wanted to win, and it turned out to be a race I could never forget.

    The Cattisyock course was a single three-and-a-half-mile circuit, with no island fences, every variety of going from plough and old pasture to bog by the withybed, and with a number of sunken lanes to cross.

    The course also included a tremendous drop fence, three fences from home on the side of a hill. You wouldn’t believe the drop, it was like waving from a first floor window. The landing was on a steep downward slope, so if you fell you and your horse were likely to roll down and end up in a heap at the bottom. No course inspector would dream of passing such a fence today.

    The favourite, a high-quality horse called Gay Peri, was expected to win, and my great friend and rival Susie Terry (now Woodhouse) was riding her well-fancied Dark Tapster.

    Gay Peri’s rider was especially nervous of the drop fence and when the three of us arrived at the drop, ahead of the rest of the field and crammed up tight together, Gay Peri fell.

    I rode for home and Caesar suddenly changed gear and won by 20 lengths. I couldn’t believe where the rest of the field was – trailed out right round the course.

    It just proved what a great stayer he was and what a wonderful jumper. He was an extraordinary horse, a great character and a real friend.

    I’ll never forget Caesar and that great ride he gave me more than 50 years ago – how he took that drop fence and powered home to win the one race I had really set my heart on.

    Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (30 May) where Prince Charles talks about his ‘ride of a lifetime’ at Ludlow Racecourse onAllibar in 1980.

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