David Elsworth: enjoyed some good days at Bishops Cannings
PICTURE: Martin Lynch
By David Ashforth 5:50PM 8 FEB 2017
AGE brings many dangers, not least the danger of names resurrecting memories that quickly turn into stories that the non-elderly would rather be spared, especially when I’ve probably told them before but forgotten. Now might be a good time for you to go shopping. Tangerines are very good at the moment.
While you’re out I’ll carry on regardless and raise the name of Bishops Cannings, a village in Wiltshire just off the road from Beckhampton (Roger Charlton) to Devizes (no one as far as I know). It’s remarkable to see a whole village remove itself from the Vale of Pewsey and squeeze into the stalls at Lingfield (1.35) in preparation for galloping ten furlongs, but the name of the debutant rings a bell and the name next to it, David Elsworth, rings it more loudly.
It was 1971 when Elsworth arrived at Bishops Cannings and made his way to Lynes House. Presumably he knocked on the door and it was probably Lieutenant-Colonel Ricky Vallance who answered. Elsworth brought some horses with him which Vallance was to train while Elsworth rode work.
As Vallance spent a lot of time in The Crown Elsworth found himself playing the part of trainer. It went rather well, with Red Candle winning the 1972 Mackeson Gold Cup and 1973 Hennessy. Vallance held the licence but Elsworth perhaps deserved the credit.
The year 1974 was less successful. An unfortunate episode in which Well Briefed was deemed a non-trier resulted in Vallance temporarily losing his licence and didn’t help Elsworth in his application for one. When Vallance got his back, he managed to lose it again, along with his driving licence, twice. What might have been a springboard to a successful training career for Elsworth was, instead, the preface to a spell as a market trader. “Strawberries, ripe strawberries! Shan’t be here tomorrow!”
All was well in the end and all these decades later Elsworth is still training. Vallance isn’t, having died a long time ago. He prepared for his funeral by falling into an empty grave on his way back home from The Crown but was rescued.
Then, at Chelmsford (8.30) there’s Zorba The Greek. Who, among the elderly, could forget Anthony Quinn dancing on the beach in that classic scene in the 1964 film? Tremendous. Zorba The Greek has a decent chance and if he wins connections should celebrate by dancing the sirtaki, as Quinn did.
But back to the present and even the future. It’s time to wish Gina Mangan and Miss Emma Taff good luck on their first rides under rules, both of them at Lingfield. Mangan has two rides, the first on the badly drawn Chandrayaan (2.40) for John Long and the second on Azamesse (3.40) for John Jenkins. Taff rides Turnbury for Nikki Evans in the Lady Amateur Riders’ race (4.50).
Meanwhile, at Doncaster (4.05), it’s about time Chelsea Flyer pulled his equine finger out and passed the winning post first. He’s got Aidan Coleman to help him. Stop messing about and get on with it.