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The Independent Online
For all its excitement, the Grand National is rarely still a race once the finishing post comes into view, which is why 1978 was an exceptional year. At the last, seven horses had a chance, the first five home ultimately separated by only three lengths, Lucius beating Sebastian V by half a length with Drumroan a neck away in third.

The ride on Lucius went to Bob Davies after David Goulding, the horse's regular rider, had been forced to stand down because of a back injury. But it was poetic justice in a way, Davies himself having missed a winning chance on Specify in 1971 for similar reasons. Although champion jockey three times, the Shrewsbury-born rider experienced no greater thrill than victory at Aintree.

When he quit the saddle in 1982, after 912 winners under rules, Davies put his agriculture degree to use on the family farm but it was a short- lived career change. "I'd always been interested in the administrative side of racing, so when the opportunity arose to take over as clerk of the course at Ludlow and Bangor, I took it," he said.

Today, approaching his 50th birthday, he has spent 12 years working for the two courses. He is also assistant clerk at Hereford, not far from his home. His brother, Graham, meanwhile, runs the farm.

He no longer rides frequently. "I missed it at first but I had a good innings, spanning 22 years. I'm glad I rode when I did because I don't think there is quite so much fun in racing these days, and agents working for the top riders are squeezing out the middle-of-the-road freelance."