HERE’S a yarn from Steve Cauthen which didn’t make it into this week’s Big Interview (pp 14-15).

Asked how he adapted to British racing and having to drive to a different racecourse every day, Steve said he actually liked driving but his passengers didn’t always agree.

“The first time I ever drove in England, we were going to Nottingham. Penny Hills usually drove with me in the passenger seat and Barry (Hills) in the back. But Penny was tired that day and invited me to drive this 450S Mercedes. There’s only two lanes the whole way, so I had to move out and overtake some lorries. Of course I should have accelerated before I pulled out, so we only barely made it.

“Barry never said a word but when we got to Nottingham, he said: ‘All I can say is I hope you give my f***ing horses a better ride than you just gave me’!”

Cauthen bypasses Weld

DID you know that Steve Cauthen came close to riding for Dermot Weld rather than Henry Cecil in the mid-1980s? The Curragh trainer confirmed the story at this week’s press launch for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Moments after Michael Kinane had commented on how he had made a career of taking what Cauthen rejected, D.K. revealed: “It’s true – Steve very nearly came to ride in Ireland for me. It was after he had been with Barry Hills. We came close to a deal but Steve went to Newmarket instead and Michael became first jockey for me instead. It couldn’t have worked out better for all involved.”

Treasures of Irish racing

ORLA Murtagh is chairperson of the Kildare Derby Festival committee and reports that there is a great buzz growing around the event which hasn’t been held for a few years.There’s a Racing Legends Museum, a photographic exhibition, a ‘Hollywood Map of the Stars’-style cycle around the Curragh, a Thoroughbred Marathon (various distances), Meet the Legends with Off The Ball, an Eimear Quinn concert and The Blizzards will play in the town square.

“Irish racing is held in such high esteem around the world and sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have on our doorstep,” Orla said. “For example, for our Meet the Legends night I was able to secure Mick Kinane, Johnny Murtagh and Seamie Heffernan in five minutes – they’ve won 10 Derbys between them. Where else in the world would you get it?”


Look sharp Johnny

JOHNNY Murtagh gave guests at this week’s Irish Derby launch a laugh. He had rushed to the event after another busy morning in his thriving yard.

His wife Orla was already at the launch and sent her husband a warning by text. It read “Look sharp. Steve (Cauthen) is wearing a suit and so is Mick (Kinane)’.

A suitably attired Johnny told guests: “All these years later, I’m still trying to compete with these guys!”