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Clement Freud - Winter Fair - 1972

Sir Clement Freud on board Winter Fair in 1972, on whom he won a famous match race with Sir Hugh Fraser

  PICTURE: Daily Mirror  

Racing Post columnist Sir Clement Freud dies

SIR CLEMENT FREUD, much-loved for his Saturday column in the Racing Post, has died.

Sir Clement Freud - July 2000

Sir Clement Freud: varied career

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

His family announced on Thursday that Freud died at his desk on Wednesday at his home in London, nine days short of his 85th birthday.

The writer, broadcaster andformer Liberal MP, a frequent contributor to Radio 4's Just a Minute show, was a grandson of the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud.

Freud, who owned racehorses for many years, was also a former member of the Royal Ascot Racing Club, in whose colours Motivator won the 2005 Derby.

Freud's most famous racing triumph was beating then Harrods boss, Sir Hugh Fraser, in a match at Haydock on Winter Fair, who carried his colours to victory in the 1972 Waterloo Hurdle at Aintree.

Recalling the occasion, Toby Balding said: "That was typical of Clay [Sir Clement Freud]. He was an enormous achiever and anything you could bet on caught his imagination, particularly in the competitive field.

"At that stage, it was before his journalistic career, he was a gourmet and running restaurants and nightclubs, but he gave himself to me for three months, riding two or three lots a day, and honed himself down from 15st to 12st.

"We bought him Winter Fair and he had a large side stake on the result of the race, I think it was £1,000-a-side, and he then had quite a large bet on himself and got rewarding odds becauseSir Hugh, although not a jockey, was a riding, hunting, country gentleman.

"I think everyone assumed Clay couldn't ride, but his attention to detail was absolutely immaculate in the way he got himself ready for the race. He actually hired a helicopter and flew over Haydock and then rode round the course on a horse we borrowed from George Owen. He won the race and I think in his own inimitable style took a great deal of money out of the situation."

Freud'srelationship with his trainers was frequently turbulent, but one who enjoyed a long-term association was Michael Chapman, who said: "I couldn't understand why I lasted so long. I think it was because I never fell out with him, he would fall out with me, and then we would be good friends the next time we met."

Venetia Williams first met Freud when he was working on a Racing Post series in which he had breakfast with trainers.

Williams said: "I came at the end of a long line of impressive performances from trainers' wives who put on these gastronomic feasts for him, but I told him not to expect much of a breakfast and also not to come before 10.30am because there was no chance of anything before that.

"He wrote an article which was terribly funny, saying how he sat down to breakfast to the best French croissants, superb Saville marmalade, wonderfully churned Normandy butter, "all of which I brought with me from London" which was totally true."

Jon Ryan, BHA director of communications, said: "In a remarkable life as a journalist, author, broadcaster, television personality and politician, racing was a major part of Sir Clement's life and the enthusiastic way he wrote and talked about the sport made him a great ambassador for racing.

"The majority of what he wrote was positive - even when recounting losing gambles - but when he found fault he gave constructive criticism. While he enjoyed the big events, he wrote affectionately and amusingly about the fun he had at the smaller courses."

Read the full obituary by Alastair Down, plus more tributes in Friday's Racing Post - or buy the newspaper as a PDF from 9am

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