PETER SCOTT was the most unlikely member of the racing community let alone of the racing press. Bespectacled, tall, thin, stooping, unassumingly earnest yet charming and full of fun, he was known by French trainers as 'Le Professeur'. Perhaps 'Le Cure' might have been more descriptive.
The son of a stockbroker, Scott was born in 1929 at the Kent farm where his parents bred polo ponies. He was educated at Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, which he adored, close to the little Buttermilk Stud, where his aunt Mrs Leonard Scott bred the top-class winners Park Top, Luciano and Precipice Wood and imbued in her nephew a love of racing.
After a spell with his father's firm in the City, Scott achieved his ambition of becoming a racing journalist, working for six years from 1950 with the Press Association, 16 months as sub-editor/columnist on the Sporting Life and eight years on the Evening Standard before taking over as 'Hotspur' on the Daily Telegraph in 1965.
Scott graced this prestigious post until 1991, becoming the paper's longest-serving racing correspondent this century. He never missed a deadline, was a good, non-betting tipster but, as a lover of tradition, eschewed moderate racing and devoted his column chiefly to analysis of Classics and other leading races throughout the world.
Therefore it was all the more surprising that he gave considerable time to a minute study of the form in Germany and particularly in Belgium, where racing has always been regarded by the Chantilly handlers as the dregs of the sport - the equivalent of a seller at the long-
defunct Torquay. One of his greatest heroines was a Belgian woman trainer to whom he referred reverently as 'Madame'.
Keeping these painstaking, comparatively useless records was one of this remarkable man's hobbies which included proud membership of the Richard III Club who persist in trying to reinforce Josephine Tey's well-reasoned, superbly written argument in The Daughter of Time that the much-maligned monarch did not kill the little princes in the Tower.
He was also an ardent lover of traditional jazz and spent much of his spare time at Ronnie Scott's in central London. I first knew Peter Scott as a friend when, as a trainer in the Fifties, I found him quite the most knowledgeable and sympathetic of the younger scribes. Later, in 1975, when I had known him as a colleague and fellow traveller to France and other faraway places, I was proud to be associated with his richly deserved Lord Derby award as Racing Writer of the Year.
He was a consultant to the Levy Board, a most conscientious member of the Pattern Race Committee and lately a director of United Racecourses, in which capacity he was at Kempton Park last Saturday.
His fruitful campaigns included the introduction of later closing dates for entries to Classics and leading two-year-old races and opposing the over-production of race horses. 'Every problem in the industry,' he said, 'can be traced back to the root cause of too many horses. The future of racing is in our own hands. We have the simple choice between selectivity and open-air bingo.'
He was right. But, if Scott had a fault, it was a good one. He steadfastly set his mind against even considering the seamier, bookmaker- oriented side of the sport which he worshipped and to which he had dedicated his life.
Peter Scott was one of the very few really good people in the racing world, who never said a nasty thing about anyone and had no enemies.
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