Jimmy Uttley: God's Spring Blessing

 Saturday 16th February

Hi All,

I want to start with a bold statement: we are all selfish. The more we age, the more we want to cling onto life. It's the old survival instinct.

That's why it's important to pause at each Valentine Day and realise how important our family and friends are. The love and support they give us and hopefully we return; slows down that selfish gene and makes us glad to be human.  To love and be loved; makes us humble, content and lucky.


My synapses, as you have probably figured, fire strangely.  Example: lucky made me think of gambling- having a bet - favourite jockeys; which led me  to Jimmy Uttley.


As  you can tell, if you clicked on the above link, jockey Jimmy Uttley, as far as I know,  only rode over hurdles, rather than fences. He will always be associated with the great Persian War, on whom he won three champion hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival 1968 - 1970

 I have tried to look up further information regarding Jimmy, but apart from being a farmer's son, nothing more can I glean.

He rode horses carefully and tenderly and in this way, built up their confidence.
His riding on Persian War was exemplary and showed his horsemanship to the full.

I was at Cheltenham, that day in 1970, when Jimmy rode Persian to his third champion hurdle victory.

It was the first occasion that I witnessed raw emotion amongst the punters. They cheered and cried with joy when he passed the post.

Persian had had a troubled year with injuries and breathing problems. Trained near Chepstow, by Colin Davies; it was said,  that it was only on the previous Sunday before Wednesday's race, after a work-out on the sands at Weston-Super- Mare, that Davies felt  he had the horse right.

Here is an excerpt from "The Persian War Story "  by Sid Barnes and (owner) Henry Alper ( 1971 ) recounting Persian's victory. "
" But it was Persian War ( at the last fence)  putting in that fantastic last flight leap that he seemed to reserve for Cheltenham who was first on the flat. Quickly away from the obstacle, Persian War raced up the hill and with the mighty crowd cheering him, raced to a length and a half victory over Major Rose, with Escalus the same distance away third; in a time of 4 minutes 13. 8 seconds- 5.2 seconds under average. Persian War had stormed back to register a third victory in the greatest hurdle of all..... a performance for sheer guts and determination was without parallel in that rough, tough sport of  hurdle racing!"

Jimmy said: " I was not terribly conscious of the other horses in the race, but coming to the last flight of hurdles I could hear my pursuers slapping and banging and halfway to the winning post Persian War started to look around at the cheering crowds. I had to shake him up and remind him that the race was not yet over, but he was still full of running passing the post."

Jimmy Uttley, a patient,  unassuming person, who always put the welfare of the horse first; thank you for the memories.


Last Friday (15 / 2 ) D. and I went to the  Sherborne Estate, a National Trust Property, to view that Spring blessing,  that is the God-given Snowdrop.

The day was bright (6C ) and it was wonderful to feel the sun on our backs again, after the misery of the past weeks.

Two  things I noticed There:

1   I have never seen the main track so muddy before.

2. Within the woods the snowdrops grew in profusion.

Here are some images for you:

What a tonic to behold!

A good ending to this week's blog, I think.

Enjoy the week ahead and look to the ground for signs of that Spring.



  1. I can't wait to be staying at Hotel Cheltenham for a stay and walking over the Cotswolds. Looks like you guys have loads of fun when out and about walking.


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