Newbury clerk of the course Richard Osgood will have the first race on the December 29 card named in his honour as he ends a life-long association with the Berkshire track.
The Betway ‘Farewell to Richard Osgood’ Juvenile Hurdle will be the opening race on a day that features the Challow Hurdle.
Osgood was born and bred on the racecourse site, becoming assistant to his father, Frank, who was part of the management team from 1947 until he retired in 1990, before becoming estates manager and clerk of the course.
From Arkle to Frankel, Osgood has seen all the greats who raced at Newbury and together with former chief executive Mark Kershaw helped pioneer the introduction of frost covers which have been pivotal in keeping racing going during the harshest points of the winter.
He said: “My mother and father lived here and I have lived onsite for 56 years. As a child I was on my bicycle mucking around the stands. I was born and bred here – it was a fantastic childhood.”
During his time at Newbury, Osgood saw many of the greats grace the track, among them the legendary Arkle, who won the Hennessy Gold Cup in 1964 and 1965.
“He was the horse I always watched when I was young,” he said.
“Some of things he did were amazing. I always followed him and Mill House and on the Flat there was Mill Reef and Brigadier Gerard.”
Of the more recent stars, he said: “I have got to say the way Denman won his second Hennessy was one of the best I’ve seen, but I was also lucky enough to see Frankel win here in the Lockinge, plus Hawk Wing in the same race and also watch Nashwan work.”
Osgood’s enduring legacy followed on from the aftermath of the 2006 ‘Super Saturday’ meeting, which was the victim of a late abandonment on the day of the fixture because the course was frozen.
He recalled: “We had covered all the take-offs, landings and vulnerable areas as usual, temperatures were rising and the frost was coming out of the ground, but then we got cloud and temperatures dropped again. We had an inspection and it wasn’t raceable.
“We wanted to give it half an hour longer, but racing was called off when everyone was there. We lost the day, but what it did do was make us think about things.”
With similar weather threatening the next meeting in March, Osgood and Kershaw took the decision to try to cover the whole course and invested in fleece covers. As a result of their success, the investment has been copied by other major courses.
“That has got to be my proudest achievement,” he said.
“I had letters from all over the world and from people who didn’t think it could be done. All the other clerks then had to look into it. We completely changed the way things were done.”
He hands over to Keith Ottesen on January 1.
“I have immensely enjoyed almost 40 years here and have been incredibly lucky to have played a small part in some highly memorable racing moments,” said Osgood.
Chief executive Julian Thick said: “It would be hard to find someone more dedicated to Newbury than Richard over nearly 40 years.
“I would like to thank him for all his hard work and wish him the very best in the future.”