Was Terry Ramsden from Nottingham?

The all weather racing has been very quiet of late, as previously mentioned rides are at a premium at this moment in time. Kirsty’s trip to Macau couldn’t come soon enough for her. The thought of some nice warm weather and top class racing is just the tonic any jockey would love to have right now. Kirsty with luck will do very well out there, all she needs is as I say some luck with the draw as the horses will all be drawn in a ballot so you really don’t know what you will get to ride. As mentioned it has been very quiet so as a result Kirsty hasn’t had much to report this week so her blog will return next week.

As I approach my fortieth birthday, I remember the 1980′s well. Particularly when it comes to sport, my two team’s both having some success, albeit limited. York City winning the old Fourth Division in 1984, a club accumulating over 100 points for the first time under the new 3 points for a win, Manchester United winning a couple of FA Cup’s either side of that truimph for my local team and I was in heaven. I still didn’t understand what you had to do to win the football league championship though as it seemed that Liverpool won it every year, albeit I learned later that Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa did take their crown from them in the year’s prior (oh, how times of changed eh?) to my love affair with football & sport starting.

As a boy I used to watch the racing on a Saturday with my nana and grandad, which got me the buzz for the sport. The days of the ITV7, Greville Starkey (my nana’s favourite rider), Lester Piggott and co. My love for football brought a flamboyant chairman to my attention, Walsall F.C were owned by a businessman called Terry Ramsden. I later learned that he owned a massive string of horses and was a fearless punter. After another absence from racing he announced yet another comeback in typical Ramsden style last month at Lingfield when the aptly named Secret Millionaire won and landed a nice touch in the process.

Having heard all the stories about Terry I watched the race with excitement and when he crossed the line in front I punched the air in truimph. Not because I had bet the horse, but because it was obvious Terry had!

So as he made a successful return to the track and the betting ring I thought I would give you Post Racing members a look at someone who I would class as a colourful modern day Robin Hood, who took from the rich (the bookies) and often gave to the poor in the way of charities and the general public.

Racing really had never seen anything like Terry Ramsden – his gambling really was the stuff of legend, from the very start right til the very end,in which he became notorious.

For younger generations the name will maybe not be of any significance and whilst his comeback to the sport in the last decade has been stop-start, rather than hit top speed. Because of who he was, or maybe a case of what he had done, his low profile “second coming” made the headlines with Jake the Snake (a then promising juvenile which won on debut, unsurprisingly heavily backed!) and a tilt at the Grand National with a horse called Royal Atalza back in 2003.

Dealing was where it all started for Ramsden. The boy from Enfield who left school at 16 and joined a City stockbrokers as a clerk, though he soon realised that clerking did not pay as much as he was making for his employers at that time so he took his first major gamble. He bought Glen International in 1984 to trade in the Japanese market, the company had a turnover of £3.5 billion at its height having had a turnover of £18,000 when Ramsden bought the Edinburgh based firm.

The Japanese market was deemed unwelcoming by much of the City but Ramsden saw an opportunity to make money and, with his trademark brashness and self-belief, built a fortune reputed to be around £150 million. He was listed at one stage as Britain’s 57th richest individual.

Ramsden lived the high life, with the private jet, the Rolls Royce, a collection of cars, the worldwide homes and splashing the cash. He bought Walsall Football Club and is rumoured to have owned 30% in Chelsea too (obviously these were the day’s before league rules that prevent dual club ownership). He decided that with his background of gambling in the Japanese markets that he would enter the world of horse racing and he announced himself to the racing world with a bang.

Days before the 1984 Irish 1,000 Guineas, Ramsden bought a filly called Katies. Her trainer, Mick Ryan, recalls: “He paid £500,000 for her and had never seen the filly – he didn’t know what colour she was!”

Ramsden’s luck continued and having backed her, Katies won back her price reputedly five times over with a 20-1 success at the Curragh. There followed a legendary three-day party at the then Newmarket Moat House (now the Heath Court Hotel), typically of Ramsden, he left after the first day having called open house for all to enjoy the celebration at his expense and in the flamboyant manner that those who knew him had come to expect.

After the Irish Classic he reportedly turned down an offer of £2million for Katies and as a reward for his gamble he was rewarded with his first Royal Ascot success as an owner in the Coronation Stakes.

That was Terry Ramsden all over. A diminutive 5ft 4in figure with trademark long hair and his London accent, he had racing enthralled for five short seasons, buying, selling, sponsoring, giving to charity and betting big on his horses and those of his trainers. He was a massive punter, placing four-figure yankees for fun beside the regular six-figure sums on his own horses. A story I was told about him shows how lucky he could be… when he came back into racing he was in a London bookies shop, betting four figures on the greyhounds. He had a winner or two and then paid a visit to the bathroom (not that bookies shop toilets resemble a bathroom but it is a polite description!), he did what ever he had to do in there and then returned to the battleground of the bookies shop. He handed the tickets over to be told that they couldn’t pay him out as they had been the victims of an armed robber whilst he spent a penny. The lucky thing was that had he been in the shop area at the time and had to empty his pockets he would have revealed a good few thousands of pounds and the robber would surely have received more from Ramsden’s pockets than the bookies till. As regards him giving to charity, he was known for regularly giving turkey’s away to households in the run up to Christmas. Such gestures gave him the good publicity he deserved and his regular wins with the bookmakers saw him labelled as a Robin Hood type figure amongst the betting shop punter’s & many steamed in when a heavily punted Ramsden owned horse went to post.

He was reknowned for buying and having proven horses in his stable, as the likes of Mick Ryan, Geoff Huffer, Rod Simpson, Alan Bailey and Jenny Pitman handled a team that numbered nearly 100 horses.

Ryan adds: “He was a bit lively! He was a flamboyant, ruthless gambler. He was one of those guys who wanted to be in the know.”
“He always let the owners of the other horses have first dip, mind you, but he wanted to know all the winners. But he would make his own mind up and have silly bets as well.”

Ramsden did not confine himself to the Flat. He added a Cheltenham Festival winner in the 1986 Coral Golden Hurdle final with Motivator. Had David Nicholson’s festival jinx jinx lasted a bit longer and Brunico caught Solar Cloud in the Triumph Hurdle the next day, Ramsden would have claimed one of the biggest paydays in racing – around £6m, or a staggering £15m in today’s money.

As it was, Ryan remembers the mayhem after Motivator justified his trainer’s confidence, which had been transmitted to Ramsden. “I told him to have a good bet because I fancied it and he said he’d already backed it to win half a million. I suggested he had a go for the other half.”

“Some bookmakers couldn’t pay him out. I remember his bodyguards carrying briefcases and stuffing all the money in.”

It may have been Securicor rather than stuffed briefcases, had Brunico prevailed.

The year 1986 was a good one for Ramsden’s royal blue and white hooped colours – Jenny Pitman weighed in with a Welsh National winner in Stearsby and Ramsden bought the Grand National favourite Mr Snugfit two weeks before Aintree, ensuring he hogged the headlines in the build-up with his pounds £50,000 each-way at 8-1, which showed a small profit when the Mick Easterby trained chaser finished fourth. Needless to say, the good times did not last. The Ramsden empire fell quickly. The Japanese market collapsed, and so did Glen International with debts of of over £100m in 1987 while Ladbrokes, his deadly rival in the ring, took him to racing’s Tattersalls Committee over £2m of gambling debts (often said to be more too!). Whilst he was eventually warned off for owing Labrokes, I’m sure that in this day and age where they are often named as “Ladcrookes” the country’s betting public would have applauded him for stinging the “magic sign” to such a degree as I don’t doubt he will have surely drawn plenty from them along the way too!

There was time for Not So Silly to win the Ayr Gold Cup at 12-1 in 1987 and a £1m (losing) bet on a horse called Below Zero (coincidentally a horse regularly ridden by Tony Carroll who now trains his horses) , but when Ramsden failed to keep to the terms of settlement, Ladbrokes acted again and the Jockey Club warned him off in October 1988, bringing to an end his ownership, if not his punting.

Court papers later revealed Ramsden’s gambling losses to have totalled a staggering £58m in a three-year period. Ramsden denied the figures but would tell David Ashforth in 1999: “Even if it was £30m over five or six years, so what? Those sums for a man of my capabilities are no big deal, are they?” Matters would only get worse. He fled to the US and found himself in Los Angeles prison as the Serious Fraud Office began extradition proceedings. Returning to Britain, he was declared bankrupt, with the Inland Revenue claiming £21m, and in 1993 was given a two-year suspended sentence.

When he breached the terms of his insolvency, including concealing £77,000 he won at York’s May meeting in 1992, he ended up back in prison, serving ten months of a 21-month sentence.

Mick Ryan said of Ramsden “Terry was a colourful character and he put a lot of money around. He put a lot into racing and then when it all started going wrong it was terribly unjust as people couldn’t wait to crucify him.”

The story might have ended there.

Ramsden had lost everything, including his marriage. But in the new millennium he resurfaced in the City, pardoned by racing, and with an ironic change of silks, black but with a hooped-sleeve homage to his blue and white colours.

It didn’t work out for Jake The Snake to the degree they hoped or Royal Atalza, but Ramsden enjoyed success with hat-trick-scoring handicapper Banjo Patterson and he had a largely unpublicised small share in Grey Swallow, the 2004 Irish Derby winner trained by Dermot Weld. But like a film sequel, the second show could not match the original.

Jake The Snake, pretty much like his owner had a very controversial first few years in the sport. Having won on debut in a two year old race at Lingfield he had a couple of years off before returning in 2006 at Nottingham. He was found to be carrying a banned substance after being routine tested so was disqualified and subsequently banned from racing. He then returned in 2008 to make a winning return as a seven year old (heavily backed from 14s into 11-2 so no doubt Terry was on!), trained by Tony Carroll & ridden by none other than Post Racing’s Kirsty Milczarek. Still racing at the age of twelve he still shows the zest and energy as his owner and has made as many comebacks too! Terry Ramsden will always be one of horseracing’s biggest and colourful character’s, if not THE biggest.

This week, we saw the return of all-weather racing at Southwell which is a big boost. Hopefully the form will keep standing up there once the track is bedded in & the Southwell specialists are out. Also this week, the Terry Ramsden owned Jake The Snake ran a blinder and having spoke to Kirsty after racing we will be trying to get back on the old boy as he still retains a fair degree of ability, even at the ripe old age of twelve.

Talking of ripe old age’s, at the time of writing an old favourite of Wolverhampton racegoer’s runs later today. Almaty Express returns after a break. He is a horse in which I have an interest in and we hope he will add to his many success’s at Dunstall Park later this year. Oh and before I forget, I hope Ron had a great birthday. I think from the number of birthday wishes on his Facebook page shows just in what regard we all hold him and his work. Top man!!

Looking at the racing over the weekend, BLAZING DESERT 8.50 Wolves makes some appeal, the Will Kinsey trained gelding won easily on his last outing in an amateur riders race at the course. Luke Morris was booked for the likely favourite in Waving & opted to ride this fellow instead. That is a tip in its self.
On Sunday at Southwell, Mick Appleby sends out OUR IVOR in the 3.20 race. This won earlier this week and comes here under a penalty. Having won by a length the handicapper may have only put him up 3 or 4 pounds come next Tuesday so it’s significant that Mick goes to the well soon after. As mentioned when I first started writing for you, Mick is a local trainer with plenty of horses that he classes as “Southwell horses” so his runners are always worth a close look in the market.

Have a great weekend.