Over a century after ukulele star “Cloggy” George Formby rode at Lingfield his namesake debut’s at Kempton on Saturday
By Andrew Atkinson Exclusive
George Formby is running at Kempton on Saturday afternoon – aptly named after the late ukulele star’s debut as a jockey over a century ago!
Formby, who died in March 1961, was removed from formal education at the age of seven and became a stable boy in Wiltshire; at Middleham, Yorkshire and in Ireland.
Formby became apprentice jockey at trainer Thomas Scholfield at Epsom, where he raced professionally, aged 10, the youngest ever professional jockey to this day.
Formby weighed less than 4 stone.
Formby had his first ride in public on 6th April 1915 at Lingfield Park, at a time he was recovering from mumps: “The show had to go on”, said Formby, riding his mount Eliza, named after his mother.
Trainer, Mr Scholfield, said George Formby, like most small boys, has a fondness for sweets and pastry – a diet that had a tendency to make fat – a jockey’s greatest enemy.
In 1915 Formby appeared on screen, taking the lead in By the Shortest of Heads, a thriller in which Formby played a stable boy. Formby outwits a gang of villains and wins a £10,000 prize – when winning a horse race.
Later in 1915, and with the closure of the English racing season, due to the First World War, Formby moved to Ireland where he continued as a jockey until November 1918.
He never won a race. Formby finished second on Philander in two races in 1918.
Formby had a spell with trainer Johnny Burns who trained at the Naas in Ireland and Ayr, Scotland.
Formby’s father, a wealthy racehorse owner, sent five horses to be trained by Johnny Burns – enabling son George would get some rides.
Along with Eliza, horses included Father Creeper, Iron Orb, Philander and Skookem Joe. Formby, nicknamed “Cloggy” – being from Lancashire – returned to England and raced for Lord Derby at his Newmarket stables, continuing as a jockey until 1921.
George Formby, a three year old chestnut gelding, trained by Hugo Palmer and ridden by Nicola Currie, owned by Chelsea Thoroughbreds-Ukulele & Partners, runs in the Will Unwin Half Century Novice Stakes over 7 furlongs at Kempton 3.50 on Saturday.