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BREEDING LINES: Gossip won't be repeated.

Byline: PR SAWARD

FEW owners in Britain are nowadays prominent in both racing and coursing circles, and greyhounds who compete at the top level under the two codes are a thing of the past. So we are unlikely to see again such a combination as Ernest Gocher and Endless Gossip, who together captured the Derby at White City and made a bold bid for Waterloo Cup honours just over 50 years ago.

Owner-bred, by Priceless Border out of Narrogar Ann, Endless Gossip boasted parents who had won the Derbys of 1948 and 1949 respectively, Gocher having bought the dam for 1,200 guineas at the end of her racing career for his first breeding venture. Resident then in Hoddesdon, Herts, Gocher was aged 67 when his project matured in the shape of a March 1950 litter of seven containing the future White City champion.

At first glance, the mating of the two Derby winners suggests track breeding par excellence, but Narrogar Ann's sire Dutton Swordfish won the Waterloo Cup while Priceless Border's dam was by the Irish Cup hero White Sandills.

It was on the track that Endless Gossip first proved himself, landing a fourth Derby for Wembley trainer Les Reynolds when taking the 1952 renewal in 28.50sec, a new final record time that stood until metrification in 1975, when the 525 yards trip changed to 500 metres.

Setting his sights on a unique Derby/Waterloo Cup double, Gocher introduced Endless Gossip to coursing at Huntingdon in December 1952, when the dog won two rounds of an all-aged stake in excellent style and was then drawn. Further outings at South of England and Coquetdale followed, then it was on to Altcar and the 1953 Waterloo Cup, for which he started 100-6 third favourite.

Showing the speed and skills of his more distant ancestors behind the live lure, the brindled raised three flags before a punishing quarter-final course behind a stag of a hare caused him to give best to Sucker, the eventual runner-up. In all, the Wembley tracker won six out of nine courses that winter, following which he was installed as ante-post favourite for a second Derby, but crashed out in round two and commenced stud duties a few months later.

Gocher evidently had some ideas on inbreeding, as Endless Gossip's first mates included his own dam. Six pups resulted from this incestuous union, but none was ever named. Although sire of Barbican Cup winners Actress and Eccentric Gourmet, Endless Gossip did not establish a durable male line, a failure mitigated by the valuable contribution he made to breeding through his daughter Sally's Gossip, whose son Printer's Prince sired Newdown Heather. Sally's Gossip also figures on the bottom lines of Patricia's Hope, Mutt's Silver and Pagan Swallow.

Popular with breeders in Britain and Ireland, Endless Gossip was no spent force when sent in 1958 to America, where he sired Big Gossip, the national win champion in 1960 and 1961, years in which he was also voted male Greyhound of the Year. He ran second in the 1960 American Derby, but failed at stud, whereas a US-bred daughter of Endless Gossip, named Irish Kappy, figures in the fifth generation of the influential sire PK's Jet.

Gocher put Endless Gossip's parents together a second time to breed Explosive Gilbert who, like his older brother, was to make his mark on pedigrees through a daughter, Barbara Joan. She threw July Joan, the dam of Bright Lad, whose male line embraces Greenpark Fox.

Narrogar Ann's other matings came up with notable coursing dogs rather then track stars, her Peter's Poet litter in particular providing Gocher with his 1955 Waterloo Cup runner-up Eton Graduate. Easily Got (by Ballylanigan Tanist) and Envious Gasbag (by Knockeevan Champion) ran-up for Waterloo Plates in 1956 and 1958 respectively.

Gocher died at his home in Stocking Pelham, Herts, in June 1969, aged 86.

Like Edwin Baxter, he used his own initials for his dogs' names, although his forenames were in fact Henry Ernest. Baxter's Entry Badge and Gocher's Endless Gossip are the only Derby winners whose names begin with the letter `E'.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 27, 2004
Words:684
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