Who was the first National Hunt jockey to ride 1,000 winners?
The first National Hunt jockey to ride 1,000 winners was the late Stanley ‘Stan’ Mellor, who died aged 83 in August, 2020. Known for his guile as much as his strength and style, Mellor won the Jump Jockeys’ Championship three years running in 1959/60, 1960/61 and 1961/62. Indeed, he may have won more jockeys’ titles, but for serious facial injuries sustained in a fall from Eastern Harvest in the augural running of the Schweppes Gold Trophy at Aintree in 1963.
In any event, Mellor rode Chorus, trained by Harry Thomson Jones, to victory at Nottingham in 1971 to beat the previous record for winners on British soil, 923, set by Fred Winter. He reached the landmark of 1,000 winners on Ouzo, also trained by Jones, at Nottingham later that year and, at the time of his retirement, at the end of the 1971/72 season, had racked up a career total of 1,035 winners in Britain.
In a typical example of brains over brawn, Mellor guided 25/1 chance Stalbridge Colonist to a half-length victory over the legendary Arkle – who was, in fairness, conceding 35lb – in the Hennessy Gold Cup in 1966. Biding his time, Mellor drove Stalbridge Colonist, who was blessed with a potent turn of foot, into the final fence and took a narrow lead on the run-in, giving Arkle little time to respond.