Petre, Bobby


Four amateurs rode in the 1946 Grand National: one was Captain Robert Charles Petre of the Scots Guards, who had topped the list of amateurs in 1938.
He had been booked to ride Lovely Cottage, trained by an old friend, Tommy Rayson.
Bobby Petre won on the 25/1 outsider by four lengths. 

Shortly after his Aintree triumph, he turned to training, sending out horses from a small yard near Basingstoke: tragically, he suffered a freak accident on March 1,1948, and had to have his left leg amputated below the knee. He had been superintending the work of his horses on the sands at Bognor Regis when he slipped and fell on a concrete slope leading to the beach.

But his run of bad luck was only beginning.

Two months earlier, on Wednesday January 28, he had trained and ridden 
Bray Star, 7/1, in the Cooksbridge Handicap Hurdle at Plumpton. 

The eight-year-old, in a distressed state, was pulled up. He returned back to the stables a very sick horse and tested positive. Bray Star died shortly afterwards. 

Bobby Petre was warned off, but the fact that 14 weeks had elapsed between the race and the warning off seemed to indicate that the stewards of the NH Committee had serious doubts about the case. 
It is almost certain that, given events which came to light afterwards, Captain Bobby Petre had absolutely nothing to do with the doping of Bray Star.

Years earlier, while attending his first preparatory school in St Neots, Eversley in Hampshire, he had become friends with Frank Furlong, a young man with similar passions and ambitions to his own. 
They were later cadets at Sandhurst together and it was here that they teamed up with another lad who shared their interests, Fulke Walwyn.

At the Garth Hunt in 1930, all three won a race before Fulke went to to become amateur champion rider in both 1933 & 1934. This greatly cemented the trio's love of the sport. Frank Furlong went on to ride the Grand National winner of 1935, Reynoldstown, and, when increasing weight prevented him from attempting the double the next year, none other than Fulke Walwyn stepped forward to ride the horse to victory.

Bobby Petre took out an amateur's licence in 1934 but it was four years before he won a race of great significance, nursing St George ll home in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.
Bobby rode that horse in the last Grand National before the war. Disappointingly, St George ll refused at the fence before Becher's after being baulked.

Bobby Petre's day in the sun came on April 5, 1946 when it was his turn to ride the Grand National winner.
Sadly, his great chum from his schooldays, Frank Furlong, was not there to witness his friend's greatest victory. Frank had been killed during the war in an air crash in 1944.

Bobby Petre died in August 1996 at the age of 84.




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