Racing: Dunwoody rides into racing's record books

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The Independent Online
RICHARD DUNWOODY became the greatest jumping jockey there has ever been yesterday. Better than Stan Mellor, the first man to reach 1,000 winners, better than John Francome and, most pertinently, better than Peter Scudamore. The 35-year-old Dunwoody passed his old rival's career tally of 1,678 winners with a double at Wincanton. Wherever he goes from here, and the Ulsterman might continue until he is 40, he will be pushing back a new frontier.

"I'm glad I didn't disappoint such an appreciative crowd," Dunwoody said. "It's a great moment, especially with my mother, father and sister here today. I would like to thank all the people who have supported me, owners and trainers. I just want to ride many more winners."

There were flying dismounts after the victories of Knight Templar and Yorkshire Edition at the Somerset track, and later a bottle of champagne in his hand as Dunwoody addressed the troops. Neither act nor accoutrement symbolise him correctly.

Richard Thomas Dunwoody MBE is as much flamboyant as he is swashbuckling. Which is not at all. They call him "The Prince" because of his textbook and unrivalled technique, but there has been a greater factor he has brought into play ever since he partnered his first winner at Cheltenham's hunter- chase meeting in May 1983.

Dunwoody dislikes losing as much as any jockey there has been. His clinical attitude to colleagues on the racecourse has led to bans; and only recently he came to blows in the weighing room with an old friend, Mick Fitzgerald, because of a perceived sleight.

This combative attitude does not make Dunwoody unpopular. People with whom he works marvel at his level of professionalism. Trainers like to use him, punters like to back him. Even though his schedule has been pared down of late Dunwoody is still fifth in the jockeys' championship and his percentage is better than any leading rider. He currently wins exactly one in four races and is acknowledged as the master of the big occasion. This temperament has brought him two Grand Nationals and a Cheltenham Gold Cup. They even let him ride Desert Orchid.

Those who appreciate Dunwoody's achievement most include those he has overtaken, men who know the commitment to wasting in the sauna and recovery from thumping the ground at close to 40mph. "Richard's performance is marvellous for himself and racing," Scudamore said. "He's a fantastic rider with tremendous determination and courage."

Dunwoody's general celebrity has reached a stage where he was the invitee on Desert Island Discs on Sunday. Dunwoody followed on to the radio programme Jenny Pitman, Bob Champion, Dick Francis and Frankie Dettori from the racing community. Now the rest of the nation's National Hunt jockeys must follow him and he will take a lot of catching.

RICHARD DUNWOODY FORM GUIDE

Born: January 18, 1964, in Belfast.

First winner: Game Trust at Cheltenham, 4 May, 1983.

1,000th British winner: Flakey Dove, Cheltenham, 29 January, 1994.

First century of winners in a season: 1989/90 - has ridden at least 100 winners in Britain every season since.

Best season: 197 winners in 1993/94.

Champion jockey: 1992/93, 1993/94, 1994/95.

Grand National winners: West Tip 1986, Miinnehoma 1994.

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner: Charter Party 1988.

Champion Hurdle winner: Kribensis 1990.

NATIONAL HUNT JOCKEYS HALL OF FAME

Winners

Richard Dunwoody 1,679

Peter Scudamore 1,678

John Francome 1,138

Stan Mellor 1,035

Peter Niven 940

Fred Winter 923

Graham McCourt 921

Bob Davies 911

Terry Biddlecombe 908

Jonjo O'Neill 885

Steve Smith Eccles 861

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