Racing bade farewell to one of its most popular and enthusiastic friends this week with the death of the former Monkee Davy Jones at the age of 66.
Davy Jones started his working life in the early 1960s as an apprentice in the stable of Basil Foster, who trained in Holland House in Newmarket’s Rowley Drive. His father was involved in show-business and used to arrange for him to have auditions, which Foster used to allow him to have time off work to attend.
One of these led to him being offered the part of the Artful Dodger in a production of ‘Oliver’ in London, and so Foster granted him a release from his apprenticeship to pursue a career in show-business. When ‘Oliver’ finished its run in the West End, the production was taken to America. While Jones was in America with the show, he saw an advertisement for someone to join a group which was being put together; this was The Monkees, and he got the part. And the chart successes and the TV shows followed.
Davy Jones never rode in a race while he was an apprentice, but he never lost interest in racing and, when living back in the UK in the ’90s, he took out an amateur’s license. He and his daughter Sarah owned a horse called Digpast who was trained firstly by Roland O’Sullivan near Brighton and then by John Bridger (after O’Sullivan had retired) in Hampshire.
Jones regularly rode out for the trainers in the mornings, and he rode Digpast in five amateur races (three at Lingfield, and one each at Goodwood and Folkestone) in 1996 and in two (both at Lingfield) in 1998. He won an amateurs’ handicap over a mile on him at Lingfield on February 1, 1996, wearing Sarah’s red and yellow colours. He had a beard at the time, incidentally, which is very rare among race-riders in the UK.
Two races on Lingfield’s Saturday card have been renamed in Davy Jones’ honour: the Hey Hey We’re The Monkees Handicap and the In Memory Of Davy Jones Selling Stakes. A minute’s silence will also be observed on course in Jones’ memory.