William Hill recalls his point-to-point ride on Pampiri
Although not the easiest horse at home, Pampiri, who was bought at Malvern as a three-year-old by my father, had shown plenty of ability on the gallops, but we didn’t know what to expect once he got on the track.
The build-up to the race was memorable in itself. I had broken my collarbone less than three weeks earlier, andthis was my first time back in the saddle.
I adjusted my stirrups and tightened the girth before we left the paddock to make life easier for myself at the start. He was very fresh as we went to post, and my main concern was simply to stay on!
Once the race was under way, he galloped with a low head carriage and settled like an old hand. It was a typical, incident-packed maiden, with horses running out and jumping through the wings but Pampiri remained totally unaffected. He also coped really well with the ground, which was faster than he would have liked.
He settled well and I was able to place him where I wanted, ahead of the main group, to keep out of trouble and give him some daylight at his fences, but withenough horses in front to give him a lead.
Approaching six out we were well in contention. When I asked him to quicken two out he responded instantly and really attacked the fence, which gave him a clear advantage running to the last.
It was the first time he had had his head in front, but he jumped the last as cleanly and accurately as he had every other obstacle. Even so, winning was no foregone conclusion, so I just tried to keep him galloping while hoping that the finishing line would finally arrive.
It was an exhilarating experience, not only for the great feeling he gave me in the race, but also because I had worked with him for a couple of years beforehand. The thrill of winning, and the excitement the victory gave my whole family, made it special.
Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (22 August) where Walter Swinburn talks about his ‘ride of a lifetime’ at the 1981 Derby on Shergar.
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