Racing: Rimell dynasty finds a fitting successor

Countdown to Cheltenham: Grandson Mark plans to take Oneway along the Fred and Mercy trail to Festival glory

How Mark Rimell could do with grandfather Fred to counsel him now. Sleepless nights, already curtailed by the need to rise well before dawn every morning to attend to his charges, are further disturbed by a real quandary. Should he aim Oneway - the horse he trains, owns, bought and formerly rode, and which has been principally responsible for re-establishing an illustrious National Hunt surname with five consecutive victories - for glory in the prestigious Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Chelten-ham Festival? Or should he opt for a handicap, the Grand Annual Chase, for which the eight-year-old is currently favourite?

How Mark Rimell could do with grandfather Fred to counsel him now. Sleepless nights, already curtailed by the need to rise well before dawn every morning to attend to his charges, are further disturbed by a real quandary. Should he aim Oneway - the horse he trains, owns, bought and formerly rode, and which has been principally responsible for re-establishing an illustrious National Hunt surname with five consecutive victories - for glory in the prestigious Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Chelten-ham Festival? Or should he opt for a handicap, the Grand Annual Chase, for which the eight-year-old is currently favourite?

"I have got tremendous pride in being descended from Fred, and I only wish I'd known him better," says Rimell of his grandfather, who died when he was a child. "I'd love to be able to give him a ring and say, 'What the bloody hell am I going to do? Shall I run the horse in the Grand Annual or the Queen Mother? What do you think?' I'd love him still to be alive, and to benefit from his knowledge and input."

The truth is that if Fred Rimell, having immortalised the family name by being champion jockey four times and producing a training record of four Grand Nationals, two Cheltenham Gold Cups and two Champion Hurdles, could have a say in matters, he would no doubt pat his grandson reassuringly on the shoulders and declare: "Make your own decision, son. You haven't done too badly so far."

Across from the office where we talk at Rimell's stables at Leafield in Oxford-shire, Oneway and another Cheltenham contender, Crossbow Creek, bred and owned by Rimell's mother, Mary, and targeted for Sandown's Imperial Cup before probably heading for the Festival's County Hurdle, crunch their oats, blissfully unaware of the agonising they cause the second-season trainer and his wife, Annie. "I get so excited, I can barely sleep," admits Rimell, 33. "That pair are stabled together, away from the others, because there are so many viruses about this year. I almost get paranoia. If they fart I know about it."

This is the trainer who had only a peripheral interest in horseracing until he was 21, and who then, having embarked on a riding career, spurned his potential by becoming a Turf version of Oliver Reed, or, as he puts it, "a bit of a pisshead".

"As a youngster, I probably had a bit more money behind me than most of the lads in the weighing room to enjoy myself," explains Rimell. "And I made a pretty good job of it, too. People like Tony McCoy and Richard Johnson were hungrier, more dedicated. Although I thought I was trying really hard at the time, I now realise that I was just having a laugh."

He adds: "I certainly thought I had the ability. Maybe it was that my parents split up and my father [Guy] went to live in Spain. There was no one to kick me up the arse. I was doing what lads do, but I always took it a stage further than the rest. When I realised I'd failed in my quest to be a professional jockey, it was like I'd suddenly been smacked across the face. Now I've gone the other way. Today, I don't drink, don't smoke, and I've lost weight - all because I absolutely love doing this." And he is enjoying the delights of marriage. Rimell directs your eye through the blizzard decorating this corner of the Cotswolds towards a church steeple in the distance. "That's where we got married last summer."

The yard was formerly an equestrian centre, owned by his in-laws, Bill and Eileen, from where racing's latest Mrs Rimell trained point-to-point and eventing horses. "I'm very lucky to have Annie," says Rimell. "Every decision is made jointly, from the moment we pick the horses out of the sales ring together. Racing is all about teamwork. It's a similar partnership to Fred and Mercy - except a role reversal. I'm most definitely the feisty one, while Annie's the calmer. Mercy was the volatile one, while Fred kept the lid on everything."

After Fred Rimell's death, the operation at Kinnersley in Worcestershire passed into the hands of his widow, Mercy, who proceeded to win the 1983 Champion Hurdle with Gaye Brief. "I'm very fond of gran, but I always felt inadequate because when I didn't make it as a professional jockey I felt I probably didn't live up to her expectations. I'm quite hard on myself. If the next three weeks go well, hopefully I can prove myself to her as a trainer."

He adds: "Gran instilled into me what to look for in a racehorse. I bought Oneway from Doncaster sales, using the knowledge that I gained from her."

Clearly, the Queen Mother would be his ideal target for Oneway. "He's got to get there first in good shape, and so's everything else," says Rimell. "It's been built up as three-horse race: Azertyuiop, Well Chief and Moscow Flyer. If one of those dropped out, that may make my mind up." But maybe the Grand Annual would be a more realistic proposition. "I always wanted to ride a winner there. I was riding round in the Kim Muir [the four-mile amateur riders' race] for about 10 years on various animals that weren't good enough. To get a winner there so soon in my training career would be beyond my wildest dreams."

For the man who has emerged so resourcefully to reclaim such a proud family name, you sense that ambition could soon be realised.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions