Phil York: 400 up

Ever-young Phil York, the Peter Pan of pointing, has always claimed not to be interested in his career statistics.

However, even he admitted – after achieving his 400th victory in the saddle on Must Have Hope (pictured) for Tim Underwood (for whom Phil has ridden more winners than any other trainer) at Peper Harow on Saturday – “The timing was perfect for a story. My 57th birthday, my 400th winner. When I saw what was running against me, I didn’t think I’d win – those were the only two I’d feared from the entries! I confess that I cheered a bit more than I normally do, and it was nice to come in to the crowd singing ‘Happy Birthday’.”

Asked if he ever thought he’d win so many races, the unassuming veteran said, “I’ve never looked into the future and have always taken it day by day. If I have a fall, I know I’ll mend and my attitude hasn’t changed – here I am again, still going. I’ve played silly buggers all my life, but it seems to have worked - I've just ploughed away and the numbers have added up. It’s pure stubbornness that drives me forward – I don’t know when to stop. I love the camaraderie – no-one’s in it to make a living.”

Speaking to Phil on his way to 500, after his win on Equus Flight at Edgcote on Sunday clutching a memento and a bottle of champagne, he laughed, “I must have about 50 bottles of this at home, and a lot of unopened boxes – but I never take the cups home.”

As for next year, Phil confirmed, “I think I’ll be back. I’ve got a plan to get an unraced nine-year-old mare to the track because I rode her dam, Eastern Point and her sire Amber Life (a rare stallion to have raced between the flags). She’s called Barb Wire (some readers may be familiar with the Pamela Anderson film of that name). Why? Because she used to be called Barbie but she’s not a doll now!”

Classic Yorky – long may he continue to grace our sport.