Racing Post logo
Search icon
Menu icon
Menu icon
  • MoreChevron down

'He always took an active involvement' - family tribute to leading breeder and consignor Richard Aston

Richard Aston: leading figure on the British bloodstock scene has died aged 68
Richard Aston: leading figure on the British bloodstock scene has died aged 68Credit: Zuzanna Lupa

Richard Aston, a leading figure on the British bloodstock circuit and co-owner of Goldford Stud, has died at the age of 68. 

Aston, who ran the Cheshire stud alongside wife Sally, was greatly respected both as a breeder and consignor, while he served on the board at Chester and Bangor and was a longstanding advocate of the mares' Pattern programme. He was also an active member of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association and on the Jumps Pattern Committee.

Paying tribute on Monday, son Charlie Aston said: "Dad was involved in the recent changes to the jumps Pattern, he always took an active involvement and key interest in breeding, and opportunities for fillies and mares particularly.

"Everything Dad did was in tandem with Mum, they did it as a team and were never far from each other. He'd have wanted her to have been recognised, they were married for 42 years and together for 50 years. One couldn't have done as much without the other.

Riverside Theatre: dual Grade 1 winner was bred by Richard Aston
Riverside Theatre: dual Grade 1 winner was bred by Richard AstonCredit: Mark Cranham (

"He had a very dry, wicked sense of humour when he wanted to, and he certainly wouldn't want people to mope around and mourn him. He'd want to be celebrated and have people enjoy those celebrations. There will be a celebration, rather than a funeral."

His considerable achievements as a breeder were crowned by the 2012 Ryanair Chase and 2011 Ascot Chase winner Riverside Theatre, who Aston bred and then sold to Highflyer Bloodstock at the 2007 Doncaster Spring Sale. 

"In terms of homebreds, Riverside Theatre would be the highest achiever he bred himself, but there were numerous other horses who were bred here, raised here and consigned from here that achieved a huge amount," said Charlie Aston.

"Inglis Drever [the champion staying hurdler] would have been the best of them, he was bred by Bobby McAlpine, who was a longstanding client of Mum and Dad's. Inglis was actually an orphan foal so he was raised as an orphan, then sold as a yearling to Sir Mark Prescott, before going to Howard Johnson and Graham Wylie. 

"Rule The World was also bred here, while in terms of horses consigned from here, the best would have been Cue Card and Shishkin."

Shishkin: winner of the Aintree Bowl
Shishkin: top-class chaser was sold by Goldford Stud as a store at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale Credit: Alan Crowhurst

He continued: "They broke a lot of records at the foal and store sales over the years; often the most expensive ones don't go on to justify their price tags, but Empire Of Dirt was a horse of Lady Jane Grosvenor's we sold at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale for €325,000, which was a record at the time. Prince Of Scars was another good one as a Grade 1 winner.

"If you go further back there was a very good horse Oliver Sherwood trained. He was a lifelong friend of Mum and Dad's and the horse was called Cruising Altitude, he was favourite for a Champion Hurdle and won the Gerry Feilden and Bula Hurdles. He was out of a mare called Caermarthon Honey, who was the foundation mare of the stud."

Goldford also oversaw the equine pursuits of Allan Belshaw's Times of Wigan. The long-time pair's star graduates included subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Newspaperofrecord.

Aston said: "Allan started boarding his horses here 25 or 30 years ago. He's a meticulous researcher of pedigrees and in tandem with Dad worked to develop the bloodlines with the Times mares. 

Newspaperofrecord: Breeders' Cup winner hails from the Times family of
Newspaperofrecord: Breeders' Cup winner hails from the Times family of Allan BelshawCredit: Edward Whitaker

"Welsh Emperor would have been the first one to hit the headlines and it developed through the generations; recently it's erupted through Sunday Times, the dam of Newspaperofrecord, who was born here and sold as a yearling to Chad Brown. Coolmore now have a couple of the mares and they bought Sunday Times at Tattersalls 18 months ago for 1,800,000gns. 

"It was always Dad's ambition to sell a horse for a million and more, although I think he'd slightly moved on or thought he'd never do it. When Allan decided to sell off some of his older mares and concentrate on the younger generations, the opportunity arose. It was great, having worked together on generations of the family, that Allan could do so well from it and helped Dad achieve a lifetime ambition. 

"Latrobe, who won the Irish Derby, Pink Dogwood, Classical Times, there are plenty still going out of it. The offshoot in France is doing particularly well as See You Always bred Times Square, who was third in the French 1,000 Guineas last year before being sold to Australia. With Coolmore's involvement and the stallions they will use, you'd imagine the bloodline will flourish."

Goldford Stud's Nathaniel colt out of Petticoat Tails
Petticoat Tails: now thriving at Goldford StudCredit: Sally Aston

Aston added that there are plenty more National Hunt families that will continue his father's professional legacy. 

"On the jumps side, in the latter years we've focused more on quality over quantity, but Fortune's Girl was probably the mare who did more for the stud than any other," he said. 

"Dad bought her and bred numerous black-type winners, the best probably being Ring The Boss, while Fortune's Girl's daughter Theatre Girl carried the flag forward as she's bred Petticoat Tails and Tweed Skirt. 

"Petticoat Tails is at the farm now, while Tweed Skirt is being roughed off by Nicky [Henderson] and will come back to us for a broodmare career when she's done racing. 

"Floressa, who was bought as a foal in France by Dad and Minty [David Minton], came back here and won the Gerry Feilden for Nicky. She's just had a lovely Nathaniel filly, while our other good one is Whoops A Daisy, who is out of Bayariyka and did very well racing. 

"She has numerous offspring on the ground. It's a small number but it's all about trying to improve the bloodlines every generation."

Funeral details for Aston, who had been suffering from cancer and died at the London Clinic at the weekend, will be announced at a later date. 

Kitty TriceBloodstock journalist
Published on 1 May 2023Last updated 22:31, 19 May 2023