Kidney, William

photo courtesy Chris Pitt

William Joseph Kidney, born in Cork on December 9, 1907, rode in the Grand National four times, finishing second on 100-1 outsider Jack Finlay in 1946

His first Grand National ride was in 1932 when aged 24, on Delarue, who refused at some point on the first circuit.

He achieved a big race success (right) on Delapaix, trained by George Beeby at Waltham-in-the-Wolds, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, in the 1934 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham’s National Hunt Meeting. He also rode Beeby’s good chaser Brienz in the 1935 Grand National but came down at the thirteenth fence.

He won three two-mile chases, at Perth, Birmingham and Haydock, on Phantom Robert during the 1936/37 campaign. He also won on Bobby Renton’s Announcer at Uttoxeter and completed the course on him in the Grand Sefton Chase.

When George Beeby left Waltham-in-the-Wolds to train for Lord Bicester, his former assistant Lionel Elwell took over and William became his stable jockey. Elwell’s string included the ex-Irish chaser Jack Finlay, owned by

Lincolnshire businessman and amateur rider Louis Furman.

William’s first ride (left) on Jack Finlay was a winning one, at Southwell on November 16, 1945. After a couple of second place finishes together, they finished sixth in the 1946 National Hunt Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, one place in front of Lovely Cottage, but the places were reversed at Liverpool three weeks later, with Jack Finlay’s strong late challenge coming too late to peg back Lovely Cottage, who won the 1946 Grand National by four lengths.

He gained a small measure of compensation when winning on Jack Finlay next time out, on the Saturday of Southwell’s Easter meeting – the second leg of a double that day, initiated by Strathmuir in the selling hurdle – and then rode a winner at Market Rasen on Easter Monday. He enjoyed a similarly productive Whitsun weekend, winning races at Towcester on Saturday and Huntingdon on bank holiday Monday.

Jack Finlay was a 33-1 shot for the 1947 Grand National, William’s fourth and final ride in the race, but fell three fences from home. Once again there was a measure of compensation, winning on him at Market Rasen the following month.

He rode seven winners during the 1948/49 campaign – including an Easter Monday victory on Rip Bissill’s chaser

Gallery at Market Rasen – and four in 1949/50. The first of that quartet was on a seasoned campaigner named Parsonshill at Southwell on October 10; the last of them was on Sporting Prince (right) for trainer Gerald Balding at Wolverhampton on December 27, 1949. That turned out to be the final winner of his career.

William Kidney died on February 4, 1975, aged 67.




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