Jarvis, John (Jack)


1887-1968

John Layton Jarvis, known to everyone as Jack, was apprenticed to his father, and, in 1903, rode his first winner on The Page (8/1) at Liverpool, beating the redoubtable Danny Maher by half-a-length. He was then aged sixteen and weighed less than six stone. In that first season he rode a total of 38 winners including Hackler's Pride, the subject of an old-fashioned gamble in the Cambridgeshire.

On Friday 22nd September 1905, he won the Ayr Gold Cup on 3/1 favourite Kilglass, a five-year-old owned by Lord Howard de Walden. In those days the rails on Ayr's old racecourse were only knee high and a bottle of the finest Scotch cost 2s.6d.

He was also successful on Wet Kiss in Manchester's Prince Edward Handicap and, on November 17th 1904, the Derby Gold Cup on the 100/8 outsider Romer.
He had ridden 121 times on the flat but, with his weight spiralling, spent a short time riding over the sticks. A notable victory, and his last, came in the 1909 Liverpool Hurdle when riding his father's Pitsea (20/1). In an interview, he claimed to have also ridden Easter to victory on the same afternoon, but his memory was faulty, Easter being ridden by J Howard.

His ancestors had saddled Gustavus to win the 1821 Epsom Derby and, with so much inherited racing blood, it was only natural, when his increasing weight prevented further riding, for him to assist his trainer father, which he did for the next five years.

Shortly before the outbreak of war, he was granted a licence and became private trainer to Mr A E Barton of Warren House, Newmarket. Towards the end of the war he served as a signals N.C.O. attached to the tank corps.

When hostilities finished, he took a gamble and rented the requisitioned Park Lodge.
"There were soldiers in the house, in the stable buildings and in the fields" he recalled. His string at the time consisted of just three horses, one of them being his.
When Park Lodge was suddenly de-requisitioned, his training career took off.
In 1921, the Fifth Earl of Rosebery sent him 18 horses and, in that season, he succeeded in winning at least one race with each one of them. Thus began a long, harmonious association with the Rosebery family.

Jack Jarvis was unsurpassed as a trainer, sending out the winners of nine classics.

His frightening temper and tendency to give his jockeys extremely complicated riding orders made him a difficult person to please, yet essentially he was a kind and generous man.

He enjoyed his retirement. He became chairman of the Newmarket Tennis Club and, in 1924, won the Banff-Newmarket pigeon race. Two years later he won the Waterloo Cup with Jovial Judge. He took up fishing, landing a salmon with his very first cast. He played a major part in setting up the Old Folks' Home at Exning. He was on the West Suffolk County Council and fought tooth and nail to save the local fire brigade which an economy drive threatened to base the service at Bury St Edmunds, some 15 miles away. Later, he became a brilliant after-dinner speaker and auctioneer.

He will be remembered more as a trainer than a jockey. In the Birthday Honours List of 1967 he received a knighthood for his services to racing.
Jack Jarvis died on December 18th, 1968, as he prepared for his annual Christmas holiday in the Transvaal, South Africa. He left £211,618.
His autobiography 'They're Off' was published posthumously in 1969.

He married Ethel Edina Leader, the daughter of trainer Ted Leader, in 1914. She gave him one daughter, Vivien Rosalie.

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