Horse going for a song

It may have educated choristers for more than 1,000 years but the world in which Hereford Cathedral junior school really excels is horseracing.

The list of famous alumni for the school in the heart of rural Herefordshire includes Peter Scudamore and Richard Johnson, the champion jockeys, rather than any of the great names in church music.

Many racehorse owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys have learned their times tables below the cathedral's tower while dreaming of riding Grand National winners.

Now the pound;1,885-a-term school has taken its link with the sport of kings one step further.

Tim Lowe, headteacher, and his bursar have joined a syndicate of parents and friends of the school to become owners of a three-year-old filly called South Sands.

The horse races in the school's colours of yellow and blue, and is one of 40 animals trained at the Scudamore stables near Ross-on-Wye. She takes her name from the Scudamores' annual holiday destination in Devon.

Mr Scudamore, the eight-times champion jockey, said: "Training a horse is a bit like educating a child.

"This particular horse is very intelligent and talented but a bit of a worrier who needs to stop getting wound up.

"She did not do well on her first competitive outing, coming in eighth during a meeting at Newbury racecourse before Christmas."

But Mr Lowe, not normally a betting man, could not resist a punt at odds of 251.

"I tend not to bet but bought the Racing Post for the first time in my life and there were the school's yellow and blue colours on the jockey pictured by South Sands. It was rather good. But I did not win anything."

He may be luckier later this month when South Sands is due to race again.

The idea of forming a syndicate to buy the racehorse was hatched during a charity cricket match between The Lord's Taverners and Peter Scudamore's XI held at the school in June last year.

The syndicate also includes Mr Scudamore's father, Michael, who rode the winner of the 1959 Grand National, Oxo.

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