Honour for Milton at historic meet

By Mark Elson   |   Senior Reporter   |
Wednesday 16th June 2021 6:00 am
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Milton Bradley with grandson Chris and jockey Richard Johnson after Milton received a lifetime achievement award

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SEDBURY-based racehorse trainer Milton Bradley, who built a career on having an eye for a winner, has been recognised with an unusual honour at Chepstow Racecourse.

Racing fans returned to Chepstow Racecourse on Friday (June 11) for the first time in 18 months, after the crowd ban was finally lifted by the Welsh Government.

Course bosses decided to honour his 53-year career by naming all the races after him and his winning horses

Over the years Mr Bradley earned an unrivalled reputation for spotting bargain buys that went on to become winners.

Recently retired Mr Bradley,86, was based at Meads Farm where he trained 1,037 winners.

His horses being put through their paces in fields at the side of the A48 have been a regular sight for motorists driving through Tidenham.

In 2019 he was honoured with a life-time achievement award from the Welsh horse-racing industry.

A Chepstow Racecourse spokesperson said: “Though he usually only had modest horses to work with, several of those he bought were prolific winners. 

"Friday’s race titles commemorate some of those horses, including his most famous horse The Tatling, who he claimed for £15,000.

“He’d shown ability, but a vet told his previous handler that he would never stand racing.  

“Milton thought otherwise, and the horse went on to win 15 more races and almost £700,000, including the 2004 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, while also running at Longchamp and Hong Kong.  

“He loved his racing so much that, despite advancing years, he carried on until the eve of his 15th birthday, winning his 176th and final race at Wolverhampton on December 13, 2011.”

While three-quarters of Milton’s winners were on the flat, he initially made his name with National Hunt horses.  

He began training in the late 1960s, after proving himself in the worlds of pony racing and point-to-point.  

His biggest winning horse was Mighty Marine, who cost just £100 but won 23 races in the 1970s.  

Seven of them were during his 1975/76 campaign, and next season he won seven in a row, in a purple patch spanning just 39 days.

Another £100 buy, Grey Dolphin, won 10 handicap chases during the 1983/84 season, with five in a row in a 17-day spell in the early autumn.  

The following Spring he won twice at Ludlow and won 17 races in all.  

Two years later Milton pulled off a similar feat with another grey, Yangtse-Kiang, who scooped six races in five weeks.  

He too reappeared the following Spring to score twice at Ludlow, and in August 1986 won another four in a row and accumulated 17 career wins.

Milton turned increasingly to flat racing in the 1990s and continued to find cheap horses that could win multiple times.  

Sooty Tern won 19 races, at least one every year from 1991-97, while £100-buy Offa’s Mead won 16.

Corridor Creeper and Englishman both joined the yard as five-year-olds, with the former winning eight times and the latter nine.

Even more remarkable was Nineacres, who was successful in 11 races.  

Brevity was another canny purchase, earning the yard £135,000 after costing just 3,500 guineas in 2001, from May to July racking up eight wins and a second.

Muraaqeb, who had cost his previous owner £190,000 guineas, was snapped up in 2017 on behalf of his longstanding owner and friend Eddie Hayward for £12,000 won seven races in 12 months.    

Phil Bell, Chepstow’s Executive Director, said: ”We wanted to do something to mark Milton’s incredible 53 years in the sport.

“So many of his horses have been household names over the decades and his contribution to horse racing has been significant.

“Friday (was) simply an opportunity from his local course to recognise his amazing career.”

Friday’s card was sponsored by Mr Hayward who runs Chepstow Plant International.

Phil Bell welcomed the return of crowds to the course, saying: “Obviously, we’re really pleased with the news.

“It’s fair to say we’d have liked to have got crowds back sooner, but we’ve understood the reasons given for not being able to do so.”

Tickets have to be booked online in advance, and he admitted it would take fans time to adjust.

“We don’t expect to attract huge numbers while people adjust to having to book in advance, but are hoping for big crowds from next month onwards,” he added.

“Everyone now has to book in advance, so that takes away the numbers we’d generally expect to gain from walk-ups on the day – you could sometimes expect 500 people to turn up on a sunny afternoon – and you can’t do that anymore.

“Most people know that life has changed now, and we’ll be seeking to get those messages out.

“Hopefully, we’ll be enjoying really good numbers again by the time of the big two-day Chepstow meeting in October, a fixture which we’ve boosted in terms of prize-money this year.”

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