Racing remembers the key role of horses in the First World War

Almost half a million British horses lost their lives during the First World War.
Almost half a million British horses lost their lives during the First World War.

When you consider the startling fact that Britain lost 480,000 horses, one killed for every two men, during the First World War, it is no wonder racing is marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the conflict this Remembrance Sunday.

To commemorate the horses and cavalry who lost their lives, Great British Racing has produced a video using historic equine images from the war.

Former champion jockey Joe Childs, who was granted regular leave from his cavalry regiment to race ride during the First World War and guided Gainsborough to the Triple Crown in 1918.

Former champion jockey Joe Childs, who was granted regular leave from his cavalry regiment to race ride during the First World War and guided Gainsborough to the Triple Crown in 1918.

The video will be played at the meetings on Sunday at Ffos Las and Sandown Park, where two minutes’ silence will be observed at 11 am befrore racing starts.

Horses were integral to the British military effort throughout the Great War, reliably transporting guns, ammunition, artillery and supplies to the Front. Without horses, the Army could not have operated as successfully as it did.

This Sunday, jumps jockey Tom Scudamore will be thinking of the animals and men who fought for Britain, including his great grandfather, Geoffrey Scudamore, who was a radio operator in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

A successful amateur rider before the war broke out, Geoffrey had his plane shot down and spent two years in a prisoner-of-war camp, during which time his family had no idea where he was.

Tom says his grandfather, the late jockey Michael Scudamore, shared the story with him and spoke of the huge amount of bravery these young men had.

Tom said: “It’s phenomenal that, during those wars, men and women were willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good. Some paid the ultimate price, for us to live our day-to-day lives, and it’s only right that we pay our respects this Sunday, 100 years on from World War One.”

He added that the contribution of horses during the war cannot be understated, especially with the horrors they had to face.

“I feel enormous respect for those horses,” said the jockey. “You can only have the strongest admiration for the people and animals that were in active service. That’s why racedays like Sandown and Ffos Las on Sunday are important.”

Joe Childs is remembered in racing as a champion jockey, having won 15 Classic races in a career that spanned 35 years, but he is also admired for his riding efforts throughout the First World War.

Born in Chantilly, France and raised in Britain, Childs began his career in 1899 and rode his first winner at Lincoln in 1900, aged 16. He spent time riding in France and Germany, but returned to England at the start of the war and joined the 4th Hussars.

He was granted regular leave from his cavalry regiment which enabled him to race ride in England, and in 1918, he gave all his resulting riding fees to regimental funds. This included his Triple Crown success, with champion racehorse Gainsborough winning the 2000 Guineas, the substitute Derby and the substitute St Leger. All three legs of the Triple Crown were run at Newmarket that year because of the war.

In 1925, Childs became first jockey to King George V, riding for him and trainer William Rose Jarvis up until 1935.

Throughout his career, Childs won the 2000 Guineas, the 1000 Guineas and the Derby three times each, as well as the Oaks and St Leger four times each. He also won the Ascot Gold Cup no fewer than four times.

THIS article has been kindly supplied by Great British Racing, the marketing and promotion arms of British horse racing.