I can honestly say I wouldn’t be training racehorses today without the influence of Dick Baimbridge who sadly died on Sunday.
I was so sorry to hear the news because he was an amazing man who became my mentor and later my friend and I kept in touch with him until the last eighteen months or so when he was living in a care home.
Although I worked for some good trainers, and rode for many more as a jockey I learned more from Dick than anyone else. He was a perfectionist, put me on the right road and my success is down to my time with him and his wife Joyce.
I always used to invite him to my annual owner’s day at Ditcheat and made sure I sent him the brochure of my horses in training every year.
I started riding out for Dick at his farm at Hill in the Berkeley country at weekends and during the school holidays when I was barely thirteen and progressed to working for him full time for three years when I left school.
I loved every minute of my time with him and quickly became hooked on the idea of becoming a trainer one day.
There were no short cuts with Dick Baimbridge who was tough but fair and expected you to be in the yard seven days a week which didn’t do me any harm. Horses had to behave and his staff, too. There were no short cuts.
He had a brilliant way with horses and trained over five hundred point-to-point winners which was quite something when you think that he never had more than a dozen horses in training.
I relished the days I spent hunting on horses from the yard and it was Dick who gave me my first chances as a jockey in point-to-points….and my first bollockings.
I was so lucky to spend some of my formative years with him. It was like having my own astute tutor at University. I learned so much about how to train horses, feed horses, understand horses, and above all the importance of getting them properly 100% fit. Dick used to do lots of steady work with them up and down hills and banks mixed in with short sharp work. With him it was always fitness, fitness and fitness, something that I follow to this day.