Willie Carson was one of Britain’s bravest and most determined jockeys, riding more than 3,000 winners during a successful career in the saddle.
Born in Stirling, he apprenticed at a stables at Tupgill, North Yorkshire, before riding his first winner in a seven-furlong handicap at Catterick Bridge in July 1962. Five feet tall and riding at an easily maintained weight of 7st 10lb, he was soon much in demand as a jockey, and rose through the ranks at race meets across the UK.
In 1972, he became the first Scot to become British champion jockey – a feat he also achieved in 1973, 1978, 1980 and 1983. Following this fifth success, he was awarded the OBE.
Willie’s best season as a jockey came in 1990 when he rode 187 winners. This included six victories at Newcastle on 30 June, making him one of only four jockeys to ride six winners at one meeting in the 20th century. By the time he retired in 1996, aged 54, he’d ridden 3,828 winners in the UK, making him Britain’s fourth most successful jockey.
His haul of 17 British classic races included the 1,000 Guineas (1990 and 1991), the Ascot Gold Cup (1983, 1986 and 1980) and the Derby (1979, 1980, 1989 and 1994). He also passed 100 winners in a season 23 times, rode more than 100 Group 1 winners and won prestigious races in Ireland, Italy, Germany and France.
After retiring as a jockey he stayed involved with racing, becoming a successful TV commentator and a manager for the Thoroughbred Corporation.
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