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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Elsworth - Epsom's diamond Geezer
Cornelius Lysaght
By Cornelius Lysaght
BBC racing correspondent

The Geezer
The Geezer was second to Motivator in the Dante at York
Aintree may be about to lose its monopoly on racing's fairytale successes.

For generations, it has been Aintree and the Grand National that has provided the winning post for almost all of them; you know, Red Rum, Aldaniti, Amberleigh House.

But in some of England's most green and pleasant land, on the borders of Wiltshire and Hampshire, trainer David Elsworth may be about to inject the Epsom Derby with a large dose of romance.

Elsworth, 65, and as colourful a character as any in racing's dazzling line-up of such folk, is preparing attacks on both of Epsom's Classic races.

His star colt, The Geezer, will contest the Vodafone Derby on Saturday 4 June - 24 hours after stablemate Something Exciting seeks to live up to her name in the fillies-only Oaks.

With the former an eye-catching runner-up to big race favourite Motivator in York's Dante Stakes, and the latter an impressive winner of the Lupe Stakes at Goodwood, 'Elzie' has much to look forward to.

And, although to some extent he has seen it all before, the ex-jump jockey's path towards training's summit has been strewn with hurdles.

True, steeplechasing legend Desert Orchid, Grand National winner Rhyme 'n' Reason and top filly In The Groove, plus many others, all have thick chapters in this story.

I have often said that I am brilliant
Trainer David Elsworth

But then so too, during less prosperous times, have market stalls around his native west of England, and even the security guard's hut at Stonehenge.

After retiring as a "not as good as I thought" professional jockey, Elsworth made his name as number two (but really running the show) to trainer Ricky Vallance, a retired army officer.

For a while, fortunes soared, but Vallance ended up banned from racing in the mid-1970s, following a betting coup, and his deputy was effectively sent to the sport's doghouse.

It was made plain that no training licence of his own would be immediately forthcoming.

To make ends meet, he recalls working as a market trader, and being employed on spooky late night guard duty at Stonehenge.

Eventually in 1978, the authorities relented, and though there have been brushes since, David Elsworth is now amongst the most respected figures in his profession.

Memories of Devizes market suddenly seem as old as Stonehenge itself.

And 2005 has witnessed a purple patch for his Whitsbury stables, one that few others can even begin to match, and now Epsom, and the possibility of a first British Classic success, after several near-misses, beckons.

Full of hope about the prospects of both The Geezer and Something Exciting, the irrepressible Elsworth grinned: "It shouldn't come as any great surprise to you that things are going well, I have often said that I am brilliant."

And reflecting that a Derby win, on top of previous big race successes, would put him on par with that colossus Vincent O'Brien in terms of great all-round trainers, he chuckled: "I am too modest to do it, but that would give me something to bore everybody about, wouldn't it".

Boring, Elzie, you? Never.




EPSOM DERBY 2005

DERBY DAY

OAKS DAY

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SEE ALSO
Trainer Elsworth vows to carry on
13 Feb 05 |  Horse Racing
Derby hope Motivator wins Dante
12 May 05 |  Horse Racing


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