One of racing’s best-known amateur riders, Brod Munro-Wilson, has died at the age of 76.
He leapt into racing history in the early 1980s, initially when winning the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown on his own horses Beeno (1980) and The Drunken Duck (1981), and the following year when landing one of steeplechasing’s most cherished prizes for amateur riders, Cheltenham’s Foxhunters’ Chase.
Riding The Drunken Duck, who was trained in Yorkshire by Alan Smith, Munro-Wilson became involved in a battle for the lead from the top of the hill with Tony Fowler on the Trish Russell-trained Honourable Man. Fowler appeared to have the race in his pocket as they turned for home with the final two fences to jump, but he was carrying an injury from a fall and could give his horse only limited assistance.
In contrast, Munro-Wilson, who stood over six foot and rode at hunting length, threw everything at The Drunken Duck in an ugly, but nonetheless effective style which was likened to a man knitting spaghetti. His game mount responded and won by a head, although the finish was not a glowing testament to the skills of amateur riders and did them few favours.
You can watch a rather grainy recording of the race here
A keen hunting man who had progressed through the Pony Club and point-to-pointing, Munro-Wilson later rode his own horse Coolishall in the Grand National, but in an effort to weigh out as near to 10st 6lb as he could he rode in a tiny saddle with aluminium stirrups. At the third fence one shattered and he was pitched out the side door.
A former merchant banker, land-owner and friend of Prince Charles, Munro-Wilson rode in races until he was 44 when he turned to polo, a sport in which he enjoyed a good level of success.
Munro-Wilson was divorced from his wife Carolyn with whom he had two children, Charlotte and Emma.