Wednesday 10 October 2012

Saturday 6th October was the biggest horse racing day of the year at Redcar Racecourse. But it was an even bigger day in the life of Derek Brown who retired as Parade Ring Clerk after 53 years at the racecourse.


Back in 1959, the first section of the M1 was opened, UK postcodes started and the first Mini went on sale. And at Redcar Racecourse, a young man of 24 – who had served his country in the armed forces during the Suez Crisis of 1956 - began a new job.

Derek’s first task was to catch any horses if they got loose and he has had a variety of roles over the years including escorting the jockeys to the parade ring and helping injured riders. In recent years his job has been to assist the Clerk of the Course in the parade ring.
Derek, who celebrated his 77th birthday two months ago, said: “I have many happy memories and I am sad to leave. I have made lots of friends over the years.
“I’ve seen lots of famous jockeys, Lester Piggott, Willie Carson. I’ve known Kieren Fallon since he was an apprentice and I always have a natter with him when he comes up from Newmarket these days.
“I particularly recall Princess Anne’s first ever winner – on Gulfland – here in 1986. My job was to escort her from her changing room to the parade ring. My wife and I were later at Beverley Racecourse where she was riding – she took the trouble to come over and say hello, I was very chuffed.”
Derek’s earliest recollection of the racecourse was as a boy after the Second World War when his father was in charge of clearing up the racecourse after racing fixtures. Aged 10, he started collecting discarded pens and pencils which punters had been using.
Derek, from Guisborough, is the special guest of the racecourse’s chairman Lord Zetland on Saturday and the 4.50pm race – titled ‘Thanks For 53 Years Derek Brown Selling Stakes’ - is dedicated to his service to the sport.
Amy Fair, the racecourse’s general manager, said: “Derek is an absolute star and is hugely popular with everyone at the racecourse. We are very sorry that he is retiring and we will all miss him.”
What else was happening when Derek joined Redcar Racecourse in 1959…
·         Margaret Thatcher was first elected to Parliament
·         Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba
·         The Barbie doll was launched
·         The first picture of Earth was taken from orbit
·         The first section of the M1 motorway was opened
·         18-year-old Spanish tenor Placido Domingo made his stage debut
·         The film Ben-Hur was released
·         The Hovercraft was launched
·         UK postcodes began
·         The first Mini car went on sale


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