In the week of the Ebor handicap at York we spoke to Eric Eldin who in 1966 won the famous staying handicap on Lomond after a close fought duel with Lester Piggott on Valoroso.
Our latest Palace House blog tells the story of Eric’s Ebor.
What was the horse like?
He was a placid nice natured chestnut horse who was looked after by a very good stableman in ‘Happy’ Sharp.
I knew the horse well and used to ride him in all his serious work at Ryan Jarvis’s yard.
The Irish bred Lomond had cost 1,100 guineas as a yearling and won his first race as a two year old over 7 furlongs at Yarmouth with Eric in the saddle.
Had the plan always been to be run him in the Ebor on 17 August?
He was always going to run in the Ebor. I had ridden him to win the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket in his previous race. He won that race two years in succession 1965 and 1966.
From a two year old at Phantom House we knew the horse would need a trip and the yard thought a lot of him.
Leading up to the Ebor Lomond was in top form and had won three of his previous four races all carrying a minimum of 9st 5lb’s: The Churchill Stakes (1m 4f) at Ascot Heath, The Princess of Wales’s Stakes (1m 4f) and a 1m 4f handicap at Redcar.
What did you think of Lomond’s chances?
I thought the horse had a real good chance despite his weight.
Geoff Lewis was supposed to ride Valoroso but was stood down at the time. Lester took the ride. He only had to phone up to get the ride! But Lester put up 3Ib overweight.
What were your instructions?
Ryan Jarvis never used to give you instructions if you knew the horse unless if it was anything particularly specific about a horse. You know the horse get out and ride it he said.
How did the race work out for you?
It worked out well. I was always in the first half dozen. I knew he got the trip well. I was happy to sit in the leading group because he didn’t have a turn of foot but he used to stay, stay stay..
Lester and I pulled away from the two furlong marker. We went head to head for the last furlong and a half. Lester on Valoroso got to me but could never get past. At that point I knew I could beat him.
Lomond at 100/8 won by a short head to pip Lester, who the day before had won five of the six races at York’s Knavesmire course.
Lomond, the oldest horse in the twenty three runner race at 6 years old was the top weight with 9st 2Ib’s. At the time the only other horses to have carried more weight in the 20th century were the famous Brown Jack (9st 5lb) in 1931 and the Vincent O’Brien trained Gladness (9st 7lb) in 1958.
How would the win rate in your racing career as a jockey?
It was a real feather in my cap to win the Ebor and for a very nice owner in Mr Ruane. It was one of the highlights of my career along with winning the 1968 Irish 1000 Guineas on Front Row and the 1966 July Cup on Lucasland.
Do you think that the horse might have been suitable for the Melbourne Cup if he was in training nowadays?
Yes I think he would have been. He still had enough pace.
Lomond’s sire Preciptic won 16 races and his grandsire was the 1937 Ascot Gold Cup winner Precipitation.
Lomond won 12 races during a five season career retired at the end of the 1966 season and went to stand at stud in New Zealand.
After his racing career ended Eric worked for many years as a tour guide for the National Horse Racing Museum.
We would like to thank Eric for his assistance with the blog.
Blog by Stephen Wallis, Visitor Services
Photos courtesy of Jockeypedia/John Griffiths, Alpha Press and Alec Russell.