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Malcolm Batters and Martinstown 1981

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    There’s a response on here from the boy Graysons to the thread “Dodgy Jock” where he mentions a howler of a ride given to Tom Furze in a Hunter Chase at Warwick back in 1997 by jockey Malcolm Batters (7).

    Is this the same Malcolm Batters (7) most famous for one of the most bizarre feats of inadvertant shafting the handicapper ever known?

    Originally due to ride the staying chaser Martinstown in a valuable handicap at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day in 1981, Batters was probably somewhat relieved to hear that he had been jocked off in favour of a pro. Unknown to both parties, however, the trainer declared Batters by mistake. Our man had basically been out on the lash all evening knocking back various pints of heavy and a few curries and was more than a little bemused to find the stewards insisting he rode Martinstown as he was the declared jockey.

    Having borrowed some rather tight-fitting kit, Batters weighed out putting up a modest two stone and three pounds overweight!

    Cue the inevitable – Martinstown holding on by a head after a four-mile slog in the mud at a stingy 33-1. The handicapper subsequently had a fit and I believe that Martinstown never won again.

    Couldn’t happen nowadays of coure…?


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    I was there Mike – it was actually 24lbs overweight. He should have carried 9st 7lbs and Batters weighed out at 11st 3lbs.

    To add to the story, Batters was drinking the night before in the pub owned by the trainer Mita Easton, where he worked as a barman. He also drove the horsebox to the track (quite probably still over the limit) and was reportedly asleep when summoned to the weighing room to replace a distinctly unhappy jockey that had spent the morning sweating himself down to do 10 stone – it was one of the Tinklers, but not sure which.

    Batters normally rode the horse and could do 10st 7lbs at a pinch, but clearly needed fair warning to get down to that – he was over 6ft tall if I remember him rightly, so 9st 7lbs was never an option.


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    Didn’t Batters once ride Martinstown in the Grand National?

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    Cobbled together from an old issue of the Times (2nd January 1981):

    The ups and downs of a jump jockey’s life can seldom have been better illustrated than they were yesterday at Cheltenham where events were more fitting to a pantomime. It began when the former champion jockey, John Francome, withdrew with influenza and was replaced by his efficient understudy at Uplands, Ben de Haan. De Haan had an enjoyable ride on that talented novice, Easter Eel, and dulv won the Worthington Steeplechase, but a heavy fall on Rodman caused him to miss the last race in a comical situation. The local doctor decreed that de Haan was unfit to ride Brown Chamberlain so Bill Smith changed and weighed out instead and his substitution was announced over the tannoy. But no sooner had that happened than de Haan returned to the weighing room, recovered the colours from Smith, changed and tried to weigh out. But the officials insisted that Smith must ride as the alteration had alreadv been announced. Fred Winter, Browvn Chamberlain’s trainer, was not amused and his mood turned to anger after Brown Chamberlain had been beaten

    Much funnier was the story surrounding Martinstown’s effort. Mrs Mita Easton, in error, declared her amateur rider, Malcolm Batters, who also happens to be her principal barman in Cranborne, to ride the horse in the valuable Bass Handicap Steeplechase instead of Colin Tinkler. The mistake was noticed too late for Tinkler who had spent the morning in a sauna bath in order to ride her horse at his allotted weight. With only 20 minutes’ notice Batters who, at 6ft 3in must be one of the tallest men race riding today, had to jump into the hot seat. He did so wearing someone else’s breeches and boots, Tinkler’s crash helmet and carrying his whip. Batters, it should be added. was only at the course because he had driven the horsebox. Further- more he was putting up 24lb overweight. No wonder Martinstown was comparatively friendless in the betting market. Still that did not stop him from winning and causing the handicapper considerable embarrassment. Happilv for Tinkler, he did at least end up bv riding a wiinner. And that was Mood Music who outjumped his rivals in the Fairford Handicap Steeplechase.

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