Peter Beaumont has been hailed as among of the last of his kind, following the Gold Cup-winning trainer’s death on Monday morning at the age of 85. Based near Brandsby in North Yorkshire, Beaumont was a quiet man who never sought the limelight and never had more than 30 horses under his care but had a fantastic eye for a long-distance steeplechaser and won some of the sport’s biggest prizes.
“I’d say he was one of the last of the old-style trainer,” said Brendan Powell, who won the Scottish Grand National in 1999 aboard Beaumont’s Young Kenny and became a friend to the trainer. “You can see why he’d have those long-distance chasers because he did the long, slow work with them. They were fit, they were well.
“He was probably a brilliant stockman, being a farmer as well. I don’t think he ever bought expensive horses. He bought them all as young horses and brought them on. He was patient and he’d run them when things were right. He never had 60 or 70 winners a year but by God he trained some decent horses over the years.”
The best of them was Jodami, who stayed on strongly to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1993, with three other winners of the race among the defeated. He was the first horse to win the Irish Gold Cup three times, back in the days when the race was known as the Hennessy, and he was also second in the Irish Grand National, carrying almost two stones more than the other horses in the first five.
The massive Young Kenny was also a force to be reckoned with in marathon handicaps, winning a Midlands National and a Becher as well as his more famous triumph at Ayr. Beaumont’s other stars included the Festival winner Hussard Collonges, the dual Tommy Whittle winner Bobby Grant, and Niki Dee, who was third in Papillon’s Grand National.
But perhaps the most satisfying moment of his career came in 1991, when J-J Henry won the Topham over the National fences, ridden by his daughter, Anthea Morshead. When he decided to retire almost 20 years later, Beaumont noted: “Anthea is still the only girl to have beaten the professionals round there”. Another decade later, it remains true.
“I’m heartbroken,” Morshead told the Racing Post. “He just died in his sleep. It’s a lovely way to go, it truly was very peaceful. He just slept and didn’t wake up.”
Beaumont’s Gold Cup glory came at a time when low-profile trainers could still hope to carry off jump racing’s most prestigious trophy, as Sirrell Griffiths had done three years ealier and Fergie Sutherland would do three years later. Coneygree’s win for the Bradstocks in 2015 shows miracles can still happen but, in these days of super-stables stacked with the best prospects, they come along less often.
Tributes were also paid on Monday to the owner Paul Townend, who had shares in horses at the stables of Martin Keighley and Joe Tuite. Keighley shared a picture of himself with Townend at Royal Ascot on social media and wrote: “We heard devastating news yesterday that Paul Townend, an owner and friend to us here for many years, had lost his fight against the dreadful disease Covid-19. Our thoughts are with his wife, Geraldine, and their family at this terrible time.”
Tuite expressed similar sentiments and echoed Keighley’s belief that Covid-19 had been the cause of Townend’s death. “Those of you who knew Paul will remember his passion for racing, Royal Ascot week being his favourite,” Tuite wrote. “Paul had become a good friend to my family and all my team, with their regular visits to the yard. He always made time for everybody he met.
“They had a huge amount of pleasure and success last season following their horse Surrey Thunder around the UK and Europe and were looking forward to this season with their horses, Surrey Pride and Surrey Flame.”