Bob McCreery Dies at 86

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Bob McCreery | Emma Berry

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British bloodstock lost one of its most popular, respected and high-achieving figures with the death of Bob McCreery, who passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 86.

An outstanding amateur rider who was Britain’s champion amateur in the 1955/’56 and 1956/’57 National Hunt seasons, Bob McCreery rode approximately 150 winners in Britain, along with three in the USA and one each in France, Spain and Sweden, many of them on the terrific steeplechaser Gold Wire, whom he owned in partnership with Chesney Allen of the Crazy Gang and who won for them in five different countries. Other highlights of his riding days included landing the United Hunts Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 1951 on Coral Boy, taking the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in 1953 on Stalbridge Rock, and winning on Young Rajah for the Queen Mother in 1962. He also rode in the Grand National twice, on Stalbridge Rock in 1951 and Cloncarrig in 1953.

His many successes in the saddle, however, were subsequently eclipsed by his achievements in the bloodstock world. From his stud at Stowell Hill in Somerset, McCreery bred a string of high-class horses over the past six decades, headed by the 1972 G1 2000 Guineas winner High Top (GB) (Derring-Do {GB}) and the 1989 G1 Prix du Jockey-Club and G1 Irish Derby winner Old Vic (GB) (Sadler’s Wells).

Passed in at Tattersalls Houghton Yearling Sale in 1970 at 8,800gns, High Top was subsequently sold privately for 9,000gns (ie his reserve) to Sir Jules Thorn, for whom he was trained by Bernard van Cutsem to win the G1 Observer Gold Cup (now Racing Post Trophy) as a 2-year-old and the G1 2000 Guineas at three. He subsequently became an extremely successful stallion, responsible for European Classic winners Cut Above (GB), Circus Plume (GB), Top Ville (GB), Colorspin (GB) and My Top (GB). He was champion broodmare sire of Great Britain and Ireland in 1993, largely thanks to the exploits of his top-class grandson Opera House (GB) (Sadler’s Wells). Old Vic was a son of High Top’s full-sister Cockade (GB). Bought by Sheikh Mohammed at Tattersalls as a yearling in 1987 for 240,000gns, Old Vic proved to be an outstanding racehorse. Notwithstanding that, his first crop turned out to contain the outstanding German-based broodmare Sacarina (GB), dam of three German Classic winners as well as their full-sister Sanwa (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}), who produced the wide-margin 2014 G1 German Derby winner Sea The Moon (Ger) (Sea the Stars {Ire}), Old Vic was initially disappointing as a Flat stallion. However, he subsequently became champion National Hunt sire of Great Britain and Ireland in 2007/’08.

Other good horses bred at Stowell Hill have included: Gale Force Ten (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) who topped Doncaster’s Premier Yearling Sale in 2011 at £280,000 before taking the G3 Jersey S. at Royal Ascot two years later from Aidan O’Brien’s stable.

The good horses whom McCreery bred and raced included High Top’s younger full-brother Camden Town (GB), as well as Electric (GB) (Blakeney {GB}). The former was raced in partnership by McCreery and Sir Jules Thorn, and was trained for them by Peter Walwyn to win the G3 Jersey S. at Royal Ascot in 1978. He subsequently enjoyed success as a stallion at Baroda Stud in Ireland. Electric was raced by McCreery in partnership with Raymond Clifford-Turner and former Hampshire Cricket Club captain Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie. Trained for them by Sir Michael Stoute, he won the White Rose S. at Ascot, the G3 Gordon S. at Goodwood, the G2 Great Voltigeur S. at York and the G2 Jockey Club S. at Newmarket. He too became a decent stallion, at Whitsbury Manor Stud.

Bob McCreery gave generously of his time for the benefit of the racing and bloodstock community. He served as Chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association as well as chairing various committees over the years and being a longstanding trustee of the Injured Jockeys Fund. He also played a crucial role, along with Peter Willett and Sam Sheppard, in the setting up of the European Breeders’ Fund.

 

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