What a bargain! In November 1992 a bay yearling colt by Minster Son went through the sales ring at Tattersalls. He was a striking individual with a big white star and conjoined stripe, but he attracted little interest. However, there was something about him I liked and after the sales I purchased him for just 820 guineas and brought him up to Sheriff Hutton.
Named Minster Glory, and owned by Mrs Hartley, he was put away to grow and enjoyed the exuberance of youth in the fields, bringing him in in the summer of 1994 to prepare for the 1994/5 jumps season.
He kicked off his career in novice hurdles, running twice and showing little, and then we tried him three times on the flat where he was soundly beaten. His troubles earned him a lowly handicap mark of 39. However, he was always going to be a late developer and in 1995 he showed the expected progress when he was runner up over hurdles at Newcastle and next time out finished second on the flat at Beverley, beaten less than a length.
Minster Glory's first win came at Wetherby on 10th May 1995. Under a young AP McCoy he led four out and plugged on to victory by a length. This was to be the first of sixteen career wins for the bargain buy.
A year off the track followed his maiden win, but after his break he was back in the winner's enclosure on the flat at Chester. The first time blinkers did the trick and Carl Lowther got him home at the Roodeye.
We had to wait another year for his first chase win, which came at Catterick in Deceember '97. He didn't appear to be a prolific winner, and there was another year to wait before he next came home in front.
The 1999/2000 jumps season saw Minster Glory really shine with four wins over fences, two each at Catterick and Newcastle. Further wins followed at Musselburgh (December 2000) and then Kelso and Market Rasen (November 2001).
After his Market Rasen victory it was almost two years before he was to win again. Rated 130 over fences, he was beset by training problems and spent the whole of 2002 on the sidelines. We discussed retirement but he recovered and a couple of placed efforts showed he still had the ability, and he'd have got bored stood in a field.
Then it all came right again! The Autumn of 2003 was a remarkable time for the ageing steeple-chaser. Now twelve years old, and rated 105 over fences, he embarked on a winning spree. On 11th October he teamed up with his pal Tony McCoy at Bangor, winning over an extended 17 furlongs. The same partnership were victorious again at Wetherby three weeks later, winning over the big black fences at speed, the trip being just 15 furlongs.
Minster's chase mark was rising, so after a discussion with his owner we decided it was time to make the most of his hurdles mark, which was some 20 pounds lower. On 10th November he scooted up at Carlisle by 17 lengths ridden by Gino Carenza. A week later he won at Leicester, a 4/6 favourite. The five timer was completed three days later down at Wincanton. A well backed 8/13 favourite, Gino got him home by just over a length to take the 'South West Racing Club Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle', just shy of two miles.
By the time he ran at Bangor in October 2004 he was 13 years old and age was starting to catch up, and the old boy was telling us he'd had enough. For his final race I put up his old partner in crime Tony McCoy. They finished fifth of six, but most importantly he came home safe.
He was retired after the Bangor race. In a remarkable career spanning 66 races, he achieved eleven wins over fences, four over hurdles and one win on the flat.
This little story tells us a lesson about racehorse ownership. That lesson is patience. Anyone watching Minster Glory's first five races would have been surprised to learn that a decade later he'd have 16 wins under his belt and had become one of the north of England's favourite steeple-chasers.