In recent years, until his retirement, at the age of 72, in May, 2018, Robert Bertram ‘Bob’ Davies was best known for his work at Ludlow Racecourse, Shropshire, where he fulfilled a variety of roles, including clerk of the course, general manager and company secretary, for a period of 35 years. Davies is probably best remembered as the jockey of Lucius, winner of the Grand National in 1978 and, arguably, one of the best ‘spare’ rides in history.
In the absence of his stable jockey, David Goulding, who had injured his back in a fall at Wetherby five days before the National, Greystoke trainer Gordon W. Richards offered the ride on Lucius to Ron Barry; Barry declined, in the grounds that he had already agreed to ride Forest King, trained by Ken Hogg, but put in a good word for Davies and the rest, as they say, in history. In a rough-and-tumble race, Davies and Lucius tackled the leader, Sebastien, passing the Elbow and, in a pulsating finish, held on to win by half a length and a neck.
Davies rode the first of his 912 winners under National Hunt Rules, Ellen’s Pleasure, at Newton Abbott in April, 1966 and enjoyed a stellar career, during which he became Champion Jockey three times. On the first occasion, in 1968/69 – the season in which he won the Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival on Specify, trained by Denis Rayson – he shared the jockeys’ title with Terry Biddlecombe, on 77 winners apiece. The following season, in which he won the Imperial Cup on Solomon II, trained by David Barons, Davies won the jockeys’ title outright, with 91 winners, and did so again in 1971/72, with 89 winners.
In the latter years of his career, aside from the Grand National, Davies also won the Grand Annual Chase on Dulwich, trained by Colin Davies, in 1976, and the Gainsborough Chase and the Great Yorkshire Chase on Tragus, trained by David Morley, in 1981.