Review: Ralph Beckett
The talk by leading racehorse trainer, Ralph Beckett (C2 1985-89) drew an audience from devotees of the newly formed Racing Society as well as members of the Natural History and Biology Society.
Mr Beckett glossed over his less than stellar academic career at Marlborough, focusing instead on time spent riding out for Barry Hills at Manton, betting and beagling.
After Marlborough, Mr Beckett gained experience in Australia, Ireland and England before setting up in Peter Walwyn’s old yard in Lambourn in 2000. He went on to train at Whitsbury, winning the Oaks with Look Here in 2008. In 2013 he went one better, when Talent and Secret Gesture finished first and second in the fillies’ Classic. Although there have been key victories with colts too, notably Muharrak’s 2008 Breeders Cup marathon, Mr Beckett told us that he has carved himself a niche with fillies and particularly enjoys dealing with owner-breeders. In 2016, Secret Gesture became the first filly since 1992 to win the St Leger. Celebrations were short-lived, however, as the horse was disqualified for interference but, months later, this decision was overturned after an appeal.
During his talk, Mr Beckett emphasised his reliance on modern technology such as treadmills, routine weighing and fortnightly analysis of bloods. With over 100 winners earning his owners £1.3 million in prize money, there is no doubt that, despite four unsuccessful attempts at Maths O level, Mr Beckett used Marlborough as a springboard to the very top of the trainers’ table in Britain.