Syndicate pioneer Henry Ponsonby dies aged 74

One of the pioneers of syndicate ownership, Henry Ponsonby, has died at the age of 74.

Ponsonby's white and red silks have been a fixture at high-profile meetings for many years, with big-race victories including the Ebor, Cesarewitch, Arkle Trophy and a famous double at Royal Ascot in 2020, when Scarlet Dragon won the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes for Hollie Doyle and Who Dares Wins took the Queen Alexandra under Tom Marquand.

Scarlet Dragon's trainer Eve Johnson Houghton said: "My first job in racing was working in Henry's office and in those days he had horses with dad (Fulke Johnson Houghton).

"He was larger than life, and all the way through he was a good winner as well as being a good loser.

"He supported me from day one when I took out a licence 15 years ago. To all his trainers he was always on the phone, and would call me up to four times a day.

"He's a huge loss to racing, and I would use two words to sum him up - irrepressible and unreplaceable."

She added: "Before racing I got together with Alan King and Nicky Henderson and we all had a big boohoo."

Derby-winning trainer Paul Cole said: "We were together as good friends right from the start in the early eighties and I set him up to run syndicates for me. It was for selfish reasons really, but it all worked out. I can't remember how many good little horses he had but there were a lot of them, and then he went forward on his own.

"In those early days we were big friends with no worries. He had a wonderful sense of humour and everything was an adventure to him. He enjoyed everything he did, and put everything into it.

"Some of the stories should be spared from the print, but I remember in the early days at Whatcombe we put him on a fat filly and told him to trot her outside. As he was doing that the fog came down and we went to breakfast and forgot about him. It was only half an hour later that we realised he was missing, and had to send a search party to find him."

Mick Channon remembered Ponsonby giving him a notable early training success.

He said: "Affair Of State helped get me going when he won a big sales race at the Curragh for one of Henry's syndicates. We always remained friends even though we had rows at different times, and I say that in a nice way. He was a real character and came to our shoot every year.

"We then had Gatwick who we supplemented for the Derby after he won an £80k handicap at Haydock. He came there going well, but didn't stay. We had a lot of good times, but if you didn't have a row with him, you didn't know Henry."

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