Archant © 2018
On Saturday Robert Bothway will achieve a lifetime ambition when he watches his horse Milansbar compete in the Grand National.
Milansbar with jockey Bryony Frost won the Bedfred Classic Handicap Steepple Chase in Warwick in January. The pair will reunite at the Grand National. Picture: DW Pratt Racing Photography
Raised around horses, as a jockey Mr Bothway rode 58 point-to-point winners during the 1950s before turning his hand at training them.
The 80-year-old, who lives in Fundenhall, will watch with pride as his 11-year-old takes on the biggest event in the horse racing calendar.
Milansbar will be ridden by Bryony Frost – daughter of 1989 National winner Jimmy Frost – who will aim to make history as the first female winner of the gruelling four-mile steeplechase.
Having won the Classic Handicap Steeplechase at Warwick in January, Mr Bothway believes the pair can go all the way.
Robert Bothway’s horse Milansbar is set to run in this weekends Grand National at Aintree. Picture: Nick Butcher
“The aim is for him to come back safe and sound, that is the most important thing,” he said. “I know it’s the biggest race in the world but you have to have a bit of luck. If he goes as well as he did at Warwick, he will be in the shake up. Bryony is going to be the first one. They have a good bond, it is the best he has ever gone.”
Milansbar was bred by Anne Wyatt at Snetterton. When he was offered up to the then Newmarket-based trainer Neil King, he contacted long-time friend Mr Bothway to see if he would be interested.
He said: “I opened the door and fell in love with him and bought him there and then. I was not going to let anyone else have him.
“It was the size of him. His temperament and movement – he ticked all the boxes.”
Robert Bothway as a young child. He said horses have always been part of his life. Picture:
Every couple of weeks the semi-retired farmer makes the near 400-mile round trip to visit Mr King at Ridgeway Racing in Marlborough, Wiltshire.
The pair have a father and son relationship, and not only does it mean Mr Bothway can see Milansbar it means he can jump on a tractor to make sure the gallops are in top shape.
He is now looking forward to his trip to Aintree.
“Only once has my horse raced without me being there,” he said. “That was up in Perth when my mother was ill.
Milansbar at his home at Rideway Racing in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Picture: Clare King
“I am very excited. I will help Neil to saddle him up before the race and Bryony will come in the paddock and Neil will discuss riding tactics with her and then it is in her hands.”
He added: “It is a lifetime ambition. I have been connected to horses all my life. I am honoured, really.”