Welcome to the Brabazon Blog! We are trying to get a forum going that would be more instantaneous and universal than either the family website (brabazonarchive.com) or separate emailing. We have commenced with a handful of topics - taken from the website - to kick-start conversations. Your suggestions for additional areas of interest and emails of a personal nature can be sent to Michael Brabazon at mbbrabazon@yahoo.co.uk

As we are probably all now aware, the Brabazon Clan is not homogenous but rather a mosaic of smaller genetic groupings, sometimes explicable by descent via a Brabazon female line, sometimes due to the adoption of the Brabazon name for various known or unknown reasons. By casting the discussion network as wide as possible perhaps we can begin to shed more light on each of the sub-lineages of the Clan - worldwide brainstorming, so to speak!

The Earl and Countess of Meath remain the standard bearers of the Brabazon name, and I think we would all agree that we have an excellent family at the very heart of the Brabazon Clan. Across the spectrum of our Family we are a good microcosm of Irishness in all its cultural forms and our cohesiveness in diversity is perhaps the best testimony to the greatness of our ancestors. So start blogging and let's see where it goes!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Aubrey Brabazon, Irish jockey, died on September 30 aged 76. He was born on January 7,1920

Forever associated with the post-war Cheltenham triumphs of Cottage Rake and Hatton's Grace, Aubrey Brabazon developed from top-flight racing jockey into one of the best-loved 'characters' in Irish racing. Bloodstock agent, motor racing driver, boxer, all-round sportsman and renowned raconteur, 'The Brab' became a legend in his own lifetime. Nobody on the Irish Turf has ever combined such racing accomplishments with the aptitude to capture those triumphs and disasters so entertainingly on paper. His love of life, his endearing charm and mischievous humour shine from every page, without ever quite concealing the tactical brain and will to win that won him renown. Too diplomatic or too diffident, to publish in his lifetime, 'The Brab' simply 'lived and loved and laughed and left.' This is how he will be remembered.
The Times 3rd October 1996

AUBREY BRABAZON was a jockey blessed with perfect hands, superb balance in the saddle, and an uncanny mastery of tactics in a race. But, above all, he fused this talent and understanding into a rapport with his mounts, and this was nowhere better demonstrated than with Cottage Rake and Hatton's Grace - both trained by Vincent O'Brien - which he rode to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups and two Champion Hurdles respectively.
Through their joint exploits, which made racing history and first established the potency of the Irish challenge at the season's greatest National Hunt meeting at Cheltenham, their rider became a legend in his native land, known simply as "the Brab". Such was the fame of his deeds that they even gave rise to verse:

Aubrey's up, the moneys down, - the frightened bookies quake, - come on, my lads, and give a cheer, - 'Begod, tis Cottage Rake"

Yet the sequence of success had an unlikely genesis. Cottage Rake, a nine-year-old, came to Cheltenham in 1948 with -only one previous win over fences, and had fallen in the Leopardstown Chase immediately proceeding the Cheltenham Gold Cup. O'Brien, also on his way to becoming a legend, and Brabazon, were so nervous before the big event that they had to stiffen their resolve with a large port and brandy at the bar, despite the rider being clad in his silks and weighed out for the race.
Cottage Rake started at odds of 10-1, which beforehand seemed a realistic assessment of his chance of taking National Hunt racing's crown of crowns. But the reality was different, approaching the first fence he took the lead. Then the better-fancied Happy Home, owned by Miss Dorothy Paget and ridden by another outstanding Irish jockey, Martin Malony, out jumped him.

O'Brien was watching from this point, saw Happy Home's prodigious leap, and started back to the unsaddling enclosure gloomily assuming Cottage Rake was beaten. But he had reckoned without Brabazon's coolness and skill in the saddle. Cottage Rake overtook Happy Home on the stiff uphill run-in and won by a length and a half without his rider ever touching him with the whip.

Aubrey Brabazon was born at the Curragh. His earliest riding experience was gained with his father, Cecil, who ran a successful mixed training yard, and with J.T.Rogers. His first winner came at the age of 15 on Queen Christina at Phoenix Park and in January 1944 he first rode for Vincent O'Brien.

This association, which was to bear such fruit, was successful again, after the first Gold Cup victory, when Cottage Rake and Brabazon were un-beaten throughout the whole of the next season. They triumphed in the important Emblem Chase at Manchester, in the prestigious King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on the day after Boxing Day 1948, and then once more, this time at odds-on, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

This Brabazon later admitted, was a hard won victory, but the third Gold Cup in 1950 saw Cottage Rake, again odds-on, a 10-length winner, Brabazon having made a vital tactical decision and unexpectedly taken up the running four fences from home. This move had completely surprised his old adversary, Martin Malony, who was able to do no more than trail in second.

Hatton's Grace, Brabazon's other hero, was a completely different sort of horse from Cottage Rake. Although he had been bought for only 18 guineas and looked unprepossessing, the crowd adored him - as well they might, for he won three Champion Hurdles, two of them, in 1949 and 1950, superbly ridden by Brabazon, Brabazon later recalled his "old pal", "We didn't know too much about him the first year, but there was no fluke about any of his Champion Hurdle wins."

The jumps apart, Brabazon was also a great practitioner on the Flat. In 1948 he captured the Irish Oaks for the Aga Khan, which prompted an amusing recollection from him: "The Aga was not at the Curragh so when Masaka beat the Aly Khan's Amina by a length, the Aly Khan still had to lead in the winner. Since he'd had £500 on Amina he was muttering a few unrepeatables under his breath as he tried to smile for the photographers."

Brabazon also won the Irish 2,000 guineas on Mighty Ocean in .1950 and in 1946 he had shared the Irish jockeys' championship with his old rival and friend, Martin Malony with 30 successes apiece. Altogether, in Ireland alone under both sets of rules he rode 406 winners.

In 1961 he took out a trainer's licence, his best horse being My Kuda who took the 1966 Ulster Harp Derby and was placed at Royal Ascot and in the Goodwood Cup. Brabazon was also a former director of the Curragh Bloodstock Agency and in 1983 was made an honorary member of the Irish National Hunt Steeple-chase Committee.

His brilliance as a jockey apart, Brabazon is warmly remembered both in Ireland and by the racing fraternity in this country as a thorough-going gentleman.

He leaves his widow, Ethne, four sons and three daughters.

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