Those that have followed the sport for a number of years build up a library of memories regarding old favourites from the past.
In recent years, the name of Rip Van Winkle has been associated with Adian O’Brien’s top-class miler, but prior to that a son of Le Bavard had carried the name with distinction between the flags.
Word has just reached us that the former Point-to-Pointer had to be put down at the age of 30 whilst in the case of Marilyn and John Taylor at Longdon, near Upton-upon-Severn, where he had lived in 5-star luxury for the last 4 years.
Foaled in 1987 the gelding ran without success in his native Ireland prior to winning a Tipperary Maiden in May 1994, He was purchased a few months later for 3,000 gns at Doncaster Sales by Dr Paul Brown who made the inspired decision to send the horse to Berkeley maestro Dick Baimbridge. The rest as the saying goes – is history.
Rip Van Winkle had just one outing in 1995, finishing second to stablemate Nether Gobions at Whitwick, but then proved a top-class horse by winning 4 races the following year and 5 more in 1997. He added another 4 wins in 1998 but ended the season lame after his final outing at Bredwardine.
Recovering from that problem may have accounted for his poor showing (by his standards) the following season where four outings resulted in just one success, but 2000 saw him awake from his slumbers with 4 victories from 5 races.
He had just 1 run in the Foot and Mouth curtailed season of 2001 when he was pulled up at Dunthrop and then went into honourable retirement at the age of 14. He was hunted by Alison Dare to begin with prior to joining Will Gaskins at Dymock and latterly with the Taylors at Longdon.
The remarkable transformation in his racecourse record owes a lot to the legendary Dick Baimbridge. Prior to joining his stable the horse had run on 14 occasions for just one success. He ran 27 times for the Berkeley trainer, winning 18 times and being placed on 4 other occasions over 7 seasons – a remarkable statistic.