Oliver Carter, 90, dies
Oliver Carter, one of point to point racing s most colourful characters, has died aged 90, writes Lee Glanville.
Oliver Carter, one of point to point racing's most colourful characters, has died aged 90.And, love him or hate him, the sport will be the poorer for his passing. Anyone who attended the East Devon point to points on his land recently may just remember him as the eccentric guy who, over the public address system, exhorted people to 'pick up your litter.' But his history in the sport is unrivalled and he trained a winner every year from 1964 up until 2006 - when Vague Idea won the members' race on home turf.And those many winners included the Whitbread Gold Cup with Otter Way, the Horse and Hound Cup twice with Otter Way with Ottery News second in the Whitbread, partnered by John Francome. In 1986 he was top point to point trainer in Devon and Cornwall enjoying 22 winners - most of those with homebred horses, and he provided many of Philip Scholfield's winners that won him the national point to point riders' title in 1988. He was then one of those who got Philip's son Nick on the point to point map, giving him rides. Nick went on to become champion amateur under rules before turning conditional in 2008.All those who worked or rode for 'OJC' over the years, including Grand National-winning trainer Venetia Williams, Richard Dunwoody, Grant Cann, a young David Pipe, Roddi Green, and anyone who ever worked for him, will have a funny story to tell.I worked for him in the mid-1980s and, in the yard, were two home bred horses Harvest Hymn and Fishing Song, who were particularly tricky to ride on the gallops. On Harvest Hymn you had to sit motionless and on Fishing Song have his head in between the backsides of two horses in front. When jockeys turned up to ride work, he would put them on one of those, without telling them how to ride, and stand there chuckling as they did lap after lap of the gallops vainly trying to pull up, while keeping their cool.He fractured his skull in an accident in the yard in the 1987/88 season but enjoyed good health until last autumn and he lived in a nursing home from then until being admitted to Taunton's Musgrove hospital just before he died. l A thanksgiving service will be held at Ottery St Mary Parish Church on Thursday, June 18 at 2pm. Family flowers only, donations to the Injured Jockeys Fund and Devon Air Ambulance Trust. There are so many stories surrounding Oliver Carter. These are just a few of the many I can recall:I learnt to drive a lorry when 22 and working for 'the guvnor' - but my first lesson was driving the old Bedford TK home in the rain with four horses in the back, with only one windscreen wiper working and which needing both hands to get it out of second gear ! When a brand new lorry turned up in the yard a couple of months later I was delighted - but no-one explained about the tachograph until they told me off for driving too fast. When I first started as head girl we had all new staff, and none of us at first could really hold his famously strong horses. Holding horses is a knack. We trained them in the end in 'North Fields' which really was the at beginning of interval training - cantering up a steep slope and walking back down before doing it again - and that season he won the Devon and Cornwall area leading trainer award - 22 winners in all ptp and NH. But this is how he told us how to assume the work riding position: ' Pretend you are sitting on the loo but reading a newspaper on the floor in front of you'!A couple of years later I had a schooling fall from a horse which knocked me out by throwing up its head before the fence. When I was back at work, and still wearing a 'collar' the first job was to gallop the same horse and when we got down to the gallops he wanted me to school it over fences. I refused and was sacked on the spot , as was Janet Selley who was riding with me at the time. I rode back to the yard, packed up my stuff, got my horse and went home, and got a job in the Golden Lion that night. The next morning he rang up to find out why I wasn't at work! Ironically both Janet and I went back, and I carried on riding out at Bishops Court for about another 10 years. One schooling session on Athford - a hugely talented horse who was very nappy at home - saw me set out around the point to point course accompanied by Sandra Phillips' hunter Bill, a guaranteed good jumper. But we were followed by OJC in his battered Fiesta, wielding a big stick with a blue fertiliser bag on the end, which he waved out of the window and occasionally banged on the roof. Schooling accomplished he announces, 'you were doing 33 miles an hour at one point'.We learned to count - to do otherwise could mean several more circuits of 'Coronation' the field by the open ditch at the point to point - and complete agony.