Local legend Wilmot honoured with lifetime in racing accolade
Epsom's racing community saluted a local legend on Saturday evening when Derek Wilmot, a groom for more than half a century, was honoured with a Lifetime in Racing award.
Wilmot, who most famously looked after Sir Peter O'Sullevan's dual-purpose star Attivo during a 44-year association with Cyril and then Philip Mitchell, was the star of the show at an emotional staging of the annual Epsom Owners’ and Trainers’ Awards Dinner.
Since 2008 Wilmot, 70, has worked for trainer Pat Phelan and he stopped riding out only earlier this year due to illness.
Phelan, whose speech about Wilmot provided the ceremony's highlight, said: "Del is buzzy, bubbly and the sort of person who always has a kind word for everybody. He'd be one of the most famous stable lads there's been in Epsom.
"He's been an unbelievable worker. In fact, he just didn't know when to stop working. His wife, Sue, who passed away two years ago, had been head lass for Arthur Pitt, so they were both steeped in the history of Epsom.
"Del has plenty of claims to fame, but the main one is his association with Attivo. It's said he bought his house out of the money he won from backing Attivo to win the Triumph Hurdle. He took enormous prices and kept putting his wages on the horse. The story goes it took him two days to collect all the winnings from the betting shops in Epsom."
Phelan added: "We named a horse called Del Boy after him. He seemed to be very good but he certainly didn't have Del's tenacity for the job."
Phelan himself was recognised, receiving the Stanley Wootton Award for his outstanding contribution to the Epsom training community. The Simon Dow-trained Mr Scaramanga was named Epsom's horse of the year.
The Epsom Awards winners
Horse of the year Mr Scaramanga
Leading Flat trainer Michael Attwater
Stanley Wootton Outstanding Contribution Award Pat Phelan
Sprinter Our Lord
Miler Mr Scaramanga
Middle-distance performer Emenem
Best stayer Harbour Law
Juvenile Bambino Lola
All-weather performer Forceful Appeal
Look back on a sizzling year of racing in the new edition of the Racing Post Annual, priced at only £12.99, which has 208 colour pages packed with the best stories and pictures of 2017. To buy click here or call 01933 304858