If Tetlami wins the Supreme Novices on Tuesday he will do a lot more than land a major coup for BHA chairman Paul Roy and inflict a nasty blow on bookie Geoff Banks, it will change the life of one of racing’s most unsung but most worthy supporters.
The £10,000 winnings on the £500 to 20-1 bet which Geoff laid Paul two weeks ago, and took half for himself, will get Ivan Newton Edwards a new and air-conditioned van. You need it if you have spent 30 years as a tetraplegic in Stoke Mandeville. The night of the crash, he was driving the car as he had a touch of flu, wasn’t drinking and couldn’t play, and so drove the lads to and from the football. The other three could walk away.
I first met Ivan on July 12th 1981 when Jimmy Saville put on a “celebrity” show jumping event at Ascot for his Stoke Mandeville Appeal, Prince Charles jumped a clear round and all three jockey club starters hit the deck with drink taken . Ever since then he has been a fantastic visitor to any of our jockeys who end up in Stoke Mandeville. He was telling me about one only last week. Racing has been something that keeps him going – looking through the papers and having a little bet. As you can see he operates everything off his chin and in his bungalow he can work the cursor up and down his screen to call up telephone numbers. On the list he has both me and his bookmaker and unfortunately he sometimes rings them in the wrong order.
The picture of him with Hayley was taken after the July Cup last year and was one of the few days he could get racing last year as his old van is not air conditioned and is getting pretty ropey. We have identified a new one and I have set up an account in its name. We have £10,000 in it already, £1,000 from his older brother, £1,000 from me, £1,000 from Paul Roy, £1,000 each from kind but wish-to-be anonymous donors, and £5,000 from the estimable Tim Watts of Pertemps fame. Last November I watched Kauto Star win the Betfair Chase from Ivan’s living room and it is hard to think of a more deserving case or of a better example of how racing can bring light in to others’ lives.
Fingers crossed for Tetlami – and if you also want to help, be sure to contact me.