Very special racing centenary

Robert Fell looking at his collection of old photographs
Robert Fell looking at his collection of old photographs

A VERY special racing centenary next month has been highlighted by a former resident. Robert Fell, who grew up in the village, where his family ran the former Wintons grocery shop, has been researching the outstanding Grand National win by Jerry M in 1912.

Mr Fell, who now lives in Ashington, collects old postcards and photographs relating to Findon, especially its racing history.

He said: “I wanted to mark the centenary because it was the first win in a remarkable back-to-back double in the race by trainer Robert Gore, known to everyone as Bobby, who was based at Downs Stables, where Nick Gifford now trains. He also sent out Covertcoat to win the Grand National in 1913.”

By chance, during his research he discovered that Bobby Gore had strong connections with Ashington too.

He explained: “Born in Ireland, Gore came to England in the 1880s setting up on his own at Findon in 1887. He married Ida Mary Bridger of Holmbush House, Ashington, daughter of Major William Bridger, on September 19, 1901 in Ashington Parish Church.

“Few people know that he is buried in Ashington churchyard, and that there is a stained glass window in Ashington church, in memory of him.”

Gore sent out Jerry M to win the Grand National in 1912 and Covertcoat 1913 and later also won the prestigious Champion Hurdle of 1929 with six-year-old stallion Royal Falcon. He continued to live at Downs House, Findon until he died at the age of 81 on February 2 1941. He and his wife, Ida, had no children.

Jerry M, who like Covertcoat, was owned by Sir Charles Assheton-Smith of Wales, carried a top weight of 12 stone 7lb and was ridden to victory by Lester Piggot’s grandfather, Ernie. Covercoat was ridden by Percy Woodland.

For full feature see Eaquestrian Page, West Sussex Gazette, March 7