Richard rode 470 winners in the last 8 years of a 15 year career as a steeplechase jockey having been totally obscure for the first 7 seasons. He broke most bones in his body and has continued to do so from falls since retiring in 1976 (including losing an eye).
Richard was involved in the most dramatic finish to the Grand National since the 1956 race when Devon Loch sprawled on the run-in a hundred yards from the winning post. In 1973, Richard, riding the giant black Australian ‘chaser Crisp, carrying the huge burden of 12 stones, led from the Canal Turn fence on the first circuit, going 25 lengths clear at one point, before being caught in the shadow of the post by the most famous Grand National horse in history, Red Rum, to whom Crisp was conceding 23lbs.
We will be dedicating a special page to the ’73 National and Richard will give his first hand account of the race and how he felt as he heard Red Rum coming. In the meantime, there’s a detailed account here.
Richard retired to join the BBC racing team as a pundit. During the past 30 odd years he has also presented horseracing on Sky TV on a weekly basis, written for national newspapers, bred thoroughbreds and run a successful pre-training stable for top licensed trainers. In fact he has done everything with racehorses except eat one and, who knows, might have done so unwittingly when abroad.
A popular after dinner speaker, Richard can be seen and heard regularly on P & O cruise ships. After becoming an altruistic kidney donor in Feb. 2012 he recovered in time to ride at Aintree on Grand National day in mid April in a charity race won by 13 times Irish champion jockey Mick Kinane. Besides writing with his former workmate Joe McNally, Richard has written six non-fiction books including the racing biography of the Queen Mother.
Joe McNally first took an interest in racing when he was just 12. His early hero was one Richard Pitman aged 22. Joe followed Richard’s career, even keeping a scrapbook, as Richard and trainer Fred Winter dominated the 1970s with horses like Pendil, Crisp, Lanzarote, Killiney and many more stars.
Joe and Richard first met in the early 1990s when both worked for racing broadcaster Satellite Information Services. Richard had already been writing newspaper columns and non-fiction books, Joe had some plot ideas Richard liked and the fiction-writing partnership grew from there.
Joe went on to become marketing manager at Aintree for nearly five years with two other notorious Grand Nationals coming in his time – the void race in 1993 and the bomb scare in 1997. Joe moved on from there to become commercial director on the board of Tote Bookmakers. While at the Tote he created the famous scoop6 bet though now wishes he’d left the moment he thought it up then sold it to them for a percentage of turnover!
Richard lives near The Valley of The Racehorse – Lambourn and is now retired. Joe is semi-retired and living in Scotland, travelling south from time to time to figure out with Richard what mystery can next be thrown at readers.