Buck’s Fizz anyone? Perhaps after Gladys Cooper wins at Wolverhampton
By David Ashforth 6:00PM 10 JUL 2016
NEVER let it be said that Wolverhampton lacks excitement. Not after the At The Races Sky 415 Handicap (Class 6) at 8.40, starring Gladys Cooper.
Gladys Cooper was a once famous actress who appeared in films such as Rebecca and My Fair Lady and may have appeared at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton although, admittedly, she may not.
Gladys Cooper is less well known as a racehorse, having failed to top the bill so far, but owners Buckmaster Racing will be hoping she shows some fizz on Monday.
Gladys Cooper, Buckmaster Racing and fizz are linked together by Captain Herbert Buckmaster who would have enjoyed watching the race but unfortunately died in 1966.
Buckmaster was so impressed by Cooper’s appearance as a Gaiety Girl at the Gaiety Theatre in London and her by him that, in 1908, they married. Three years later, in the 1911 Census, Buckmaster gave his occupation as “Commission Agent. Professional backer and layer of horses.”
It was appropriate that, when the First World War broke out, Buckmaster joined the Royal Horse Guards. While in France he encountered a drink made of champagne and peach juice. He also set his heart on establishing a club for officers returning from the War. In 1919 Buck’s Club opened where it still is today, in Clifford Street, Mayfair.
It featured an American Bar and barman Malachy ‘Pat’ McGarry. When Buckmaster asked McGarry to make the cocktail he’d enjoyed in France, McGarry, lacking peach juice, substituted orange juice and, in 1921, created Buck’s Fizz.
The Club, the Fizz and McGarry became so famous that in P G Wodehouse’s The Inimitable Jeeves (1923) Bertie Wooster visits a Club where the barman is McGarry.
Horses and gambling featured prominently in the activities of the Club, which staged point-to-point races and had a tent at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. Maybe it still does.
By the time Bertie Wooster arrived, Cooper and Buckmaster had divorced, although not before producing Joan Buckmaster, who married the actor and horserace owner Robert Morley.
Herbert Buckmaster lived in an upstairs room at the Club, from where he continued to gamble, once betting that he could walk from Westminster Bridge to the Royal York Hotel in Brighton in under 17 hours. That was a winning bet but most were not and by the time he died, Buck’s Club was teetering on the brink of extinction.
Fortunately a fund was raised to save it. Buckmaster Racing is a partnership made up of Buck’s Club members.
Gladys Cooper became Dame Gladys Cooper so it shouldn’t be too difficult for her to shine in a 0-60 handicap, particularly as she was a creditable runner-up over the same course and distance last month.
Win or lose, I think a Buck’s Fizz toast is fitting. So a toast to Gladys Cooper and another to Captain Buckmaster; a toast to barman McGarry and to Bertie Wooster.
When that’s over, you could toast Sir Roger Moore, who is running in the 9.10 although, personally, I rather hope that Custard The Dragon wins.