Any long time follower of racing will always respond to the name of Kinnersley with the utmost respect and a hint of nostalgia. Every time I drive up or down the M5 between junctions 7 and 8, it's obligatory to glance across to the folly at the top of the Kinnersley gallops, made famous in an undocumented number of moody early morning images of Rimells ,Fred then Mercy, with their teams of top flight steeplechasers.
But racehorses didn't cease being trained at Kinnersley when Mercy retired in the late eighties. There was a timely reminder of this in today's results from Uttoxeter, in which John Spearing's Pillar of Steel consolidated his success at Worcester last month with a follow-up victory in a Conditionals handicap hurdle, beating our own Area Champion Alex Edwards, now professional, in the process.
In itself, this training feat is nothing remarkable. What is more so is that John is still training horses at the age of 81, when pipe and slippers mode should normally have kicked in. A man who started training in 1988 is still producing winners and clearly enjoying it too. Over 220 winners under National Hunt rules are assigned to his name.
If the big winners have proved elusive these past 10+ years, this is not to diminish the obvious zest with which John still approaches his trade. Horses like Hakim (Grand Sefton Chase November 2006), Jack's Craic (Red Rum Chase April 2007), and Simon (Great Yorkshire Chase, Racing Post Chase Kempton, 2007) tell a story of operating at the highest level.
Nor is that to discount the fact that the yard has churned out more than 320 flat winners over the same period., including 4 to date this year.
It would appear age is no barrier to a training career.