Thursday, May 24, 2012
As a young farmer, Arthur Reed must have questioned his judgement when he bought a horse for £50 at Exeter market - it was in poor condition after spending three weeks on a boat from Ireland.
But, he managed to ride it home to Farway and, within a few years, pulled off such a sporting victory with the acquisition that it remains a legend to this day.
At the age of 24, Mr Reed stunned a crowd of 2,000 when he rode Flash to victory against professional jockeys in Axe Vale Harriers members’ race at Stafford Cross.
The triumph fitted in well with his nickname, ‘Nip’, which he acquired shortly after birth.
Sixty-five years later, that victory is being remembered.
Nip will be guest of honour at Axe Vale Hunt’s point to point meet at Stafford Cross on Saturday (May 26).
Flash has long since gone, but memories of that remarkable day - and a remarkable horse - remain as fresh as yesterday.
Now 89, Nip, of Honiton Bottom Road, Honiton, says he can’t sleep with the excitement of being guest of honour.
“I am not going to make a speech or anything,” he said.
“I am quite proud to think I did it - and beat a professional jockey.
“I have been thinking about it every day. I can’t sleep.”
Riding horses was second nature to a young Nip.
“I was a farmer and we didn’t have tractors in those days,” he said.
“Flash was in poor condition, but soon came on.
“I was encouraged to run Flash in the members’ race by the hunt’s master, John Treffrey.”
But stopping off for a tipple on the way to Stafford Cross nearly cost Nip his place in the race.
“I missed the declaration, because I was in the Three Horseshoes,” he said. “But, when I got there, I discovered Mr Treffrey had declared for me.”
In a nail-biting race, Flash crossed the finish line ahead of Kestral Bay ridden by professional Captain Parker.
The moment was captured in a photograph that has delighted racing fans for decades.
Nip remembers Flash was seven at the time of the great victory. The horse was sold when Nip started courting, but has never been forgotten.