Whereare they now? Today: Duncan Keith - Another way to become a steward.
Then: Flat jockey 1954-1972 with more than 650 winners to his credit
Now: Bar steward at Banstead Athletic Football Club
High: Winning the 1965 2,000 Guineas on Niksar
Low: Being unable to find a job in racing after finishing riding
HE LIVES on Epsom Downs, not far from the racecourse which he graced on many an occasion. But a visit to the races these days is something of a rarity for Classic-winning jockey Duncan Keith as he beavers around the bar as a steward at Banstead Athletic Football Club.
"It's a busy concern, as we hold a lot of large functions. It's hard work, but then I don't mind that," says the former rider, who is still occasionally recognised by racing fans. "Some of the older ones remember me riding," he adds.
"I still follow racing and like to look back at the old breeding, and Geordie Ramshaw and Jock Wilson both live just around the corner from me."
So do the three former jockeys sometimes reminisce about the good old days?
"Not really," says Keith. "Things have changed. It was a different era then."
A reminder that he was once a household name is confirmed by Racing Post readers, who have enthusiastically clamoured for Keith to be featured in this series.
It's hardly surprising. The Glasgow-born rider was at the top of his profession, thanks to a long association with Walter Nightingall and subsequently with Peter Walwyn, prior to Pat Eddery taking over when Keith's constant weight problems finally got the better of him.
Curiously, he feels his long battle with the scales was triggered by a fall at Newbury in 1964 from a horse called London Melody, which left him with two broken vertebrae and a smashed pelvis. "I was in traction for nine months and my legs went to nothing. I had to go to a rehabilitation centre to get built up again, and that's when my weight problems really started."
London Melody didn't help matters. No sooner had Keith got back riding the following year than he took another pile-driving fall from the same horse. "He used to break blood vessels and collapse. The second time, at Lingfield, he did it just as he was coming to win and uprooted three concrete posts."
Setbacks apart, Keith has some "terrific" memories of his sparkling career. He remembers with particular affection High High and Vienna, both owned by Sir Winston Churchill, I Say, on whom he won the Coronation Cup, and others like Lucyrowe, Linden Tree, Approval, Rock Roi and Humble Duty, on whom he captured the Cheveley Park and Sussex Stakes.
"I was in hospital when she won the 1,000 Guineas, and Lester rode her. He sent me a bottle of tonic water over that!"
Keith, though, got his name on the Guineas scoreboard, through Niksar who scooted home in the 2,000 in 1965. "He was my only Classic winner in England, so I suppose I'd have to say he was the highlight of my career."
Unable to secure a worthwhile job after he finished riding, Keith eventually found a yard in Winchester from which to train, but that role, highlighted by the high-class Hillandale, lasted only six years. "When they made the Winchester bypass, they took away my gallops, which I only rented," he recalls.
Although lost to racing since, Duncan Keith is still fondly remembered by racing people.
Duncan Keith, not prone to reminiscing, enjoys working
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Jan 12, 2001|
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