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A Tribute To Milton Bradley

Racing
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23 January 2023

Everyone connected with Welsh racing will be sad to learn of the death of 88-year-old Milton Bradley.

 Born on 5 January 1935, he became renowned for training numerous prolific winners, even though he usually only had modest horses to work with.

Initially he made his name with National Hunt horses, especially those that relished the firm ground often found on the country tracks in the summer. He began training in 1969, after proving himself in the worlds of pony racing and point-to-pointing. He saddled the mare Octroi to win 22 points in six seasons. 

Bradley’s winningmost horse was Mighty Marine, who won 23 races in the 1970s. Seven of them were during his 1975/76 campaign. Next season he won seven in a row, in a purple patch spanning just 39 days. He had cost his lucky owner just £100.

Another £100 buy, another firm-ground lover, Grey Dolphin won 10 handicap chases during the 1983/84 season. Five in a row came in a 17-day spell in the early autumn. He was rested during the winter and emerged in the spring to win twice at Ludlow before jump racing’s then-traditional two-month summer break. He won 17 races in all. 

Two years later Bradley pulled off a similar feat with Yangtse-Kiang, who scooped six races in five weeks. Another grey who relished hearing his hooves rattle, he too reappeared the following spring to score twice at Ludlow. In August 1986 he won another four in a row. The handicapper caught up with him eventually, but not before he had also accumulated 17 career wins. 

Bradley turned increasingly to flat racing in the 1990s, which is where he achieved three quarters of all his winners. Perhaps Bradley’s most famous horse was The Tatling, who he claimed for £15,000. He’d shown ability, but a vet told his previous handler that he would never stand racing. Bradley thought otherwise, and the horse went on to win 15 more races and almost £700,000, including the 2004 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. He loved his racing so much that, despite advancing years, he carried on until the eve of his 15th birthday, winning his 176th and final race at Wolverhampton on December 13 2011. 

He was a master of finding cheap horses that could win multiple times. Sooty Tern won 19 races, at least one every year from 1991-97. Offa’s Mead, who cost £100, won 16. 

Corridor Creeper and Englishman both joined the yard as five-year-olds. The former won eight times and the latter nine. Even more remarkable was Nineacres, who was successful in eleven races after he joined Bradley at the age of eight. 

Brevity was another canny purchase. He earned the yard £135,000 after costing just 3,500 guineas in February 2001. To begin with he didn’t show much, but then he hit form with a vengeance; from May to July his form figures were 1111211011. 

Bradley’s string diminished in the 2010s, but his skill and his eye for a horse did not. Muraaqeb, who had cost his previous owner £190,000 guineas, was snapped up at the sales in 2017 on behalf of his longstanding owner and friend Eddie Hayward for £12,000. He won seven races in the space of 12 months. His last winner was Iesha, at Lingfield on 14 December 2020. 

He retired in January 2021 to bring a 53-year career in racing to an end. By then he had trained 1,037 winners from his base at Sedbury, opposite Chepstow on the English side of the River Wye. 

Chepstow’s Executive Director Phil Bell said: “The fact Milton was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 ROA Welsh Horse Racing Awards says it all. He received a standing ovation that night from an emotional audience that included members of his family, friends and peers. He was hugely respected by his colleagues in the training ranks and had a multitude of friends in and around the Chepstow area. He will be greatly missed.”

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