FORMER National Hunt champion jockey John Francome has had a race named in his honour.
Newbury Racecourse announced that the Grade 2 novices’ chase on Ladbrokes Trophy Day in December has had its title changed to the Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase.
The race, which started its life at Worcester in 1990, moved to Newbury in 2000 and has been won in the past two years by star chasers trained by Colin Tizzard, Thistlecrack (2016) and Native River (2015).
John Francome, who lives in Lambourn and who won two Hennessy Gold Cups at the course on Brown Chamberlin (1983) and Burrough Hill Lad (1984), said: “Newbury is not only my local track, it is also my favourite and I am honoured to have a race named after me, especially one which has produced such outstanding winners for the past two years.
“You normally have to die before anything like this happens, so I hope they don’t know something more than I do and that I am here to see the next winner.”
Head of communications at Newbury Racecourse, Andy Clifton, said: “The word legend is overused these days, but it almost seems inadequate when one thinks about the positive impact that John Francome has had on the sport of horseracing over many years, in lots of different ways.
“As someone who has lived in the area his entire life and had so many successes as a jockey at Newbury, we are thrilled to be able to name a race after him at his local track on our biggest day of jump racing.”
A spokesman for Ladbrokes, Mike Dillon, said: “This is a thoroughly deserved and appropriate accolade for one of the greats of the sport.
“Everyone has their own favourite ‘Francome moment’, but for me the sportsmanship he displayed in 1981/82 when he stopped riding towards the end of the season having drawn level with Peter Scudamore so that they shared the champion jockey title sums up the man perfectly.”