InterviewWillie Carson

'It was the best race I ever rode and I was very proud of it - but Sheikh Hamdan thought it was terrible!'

Willie Carson tells Peter Thomas about his four Derby wins, non-stayer Nashwan and the ills of British breeding

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Senior features writer
Willie Carson won the last of his four Derbys 30 years ago this week on Erhaab
Willie Carson won the last of his four Derbys 30 years ago this week on ErhaabCredit: Steve Davies

Willie Carson is a breeder these days, not a champion jockey, but that doesn't mean the fire burns any less brightly. He's currently haggling with the vet, who is tending to one of Minster Stud's broodmares after a particularly vigorous covering, and is keen both to offer medical advice and keep the price down.

There does seem to be an element of pantomime to proceedings, though. The vet gives the impression of having heard it all before and Carson appears to be relishing the process, as he did when trying to extort a free lunch for the privilege of this morning's interview (which turns out to be a bluff, but a very good one). This is a business, he points out to anyone who will listen, but that doesn't mean he isn't having some fun with it.

Over coffee in the kitchen of his smart Gloucestershire home, he is keen to remind me he never liked the press very much because they didn't like him because he wouldn't talk to them because his guv'nor Dick Hern told him not to. It's a convoluted 'chicken and egg' conundrum, but one that has to be revived, presumably lest I should get ideas above my station.

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