Who was George Duller?
In later life, George Duller made a name for himself as a motor racing driver, but it was as a National Hunt jockey – and, specifically, as a specialist hurdles jockey – in the early part of the twentieth century that he first found fame. He was, in fact, Champion Jockey in 1918, but with restrictions on horse racing, he managed just 17 winners in the entire calendar year in a severely limited National Hunt programme.
Born in Canning Town, London in 1891, fostered an idiosyncratic, ‘short’ style of riding, which was at odds with other jockeys of the day. Nevertheless, coupled with exceptional judgement of pace, his style allowed him, more often than not, to execute front-running tactics to good effect. Interestingly, while he rarely rode over larger obstacles, Duller was also the first jockey to wear a crash helmet.
As a jockey, Duller is probably best remembered for his association with Trespasser, on whom he won the Imperial Cup at Sandown Park three years running in 1920, 1921 and 1922 and the inaugural running of the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1920. Between 1963 and 1974, Duller was commemorated by a race at the Cheltenham Festival, the George Duller Handicap Hurdle, although it was susbequently replaced by the Coral Golden Hurdle Final, or the Pertemps Network Final, as the race is known today.