08 January 2022

Farinet finds top gear at Sandown to leave Richard Hammond smiling

08 January 2022

Horse power is something Richard Hammond is fully versed in. Or to be exact, the horse power you find in cars.

When it comes to the literal equine sense of the word, he admits that he is a little out of his comfort zone. Probably like being driven down a steep hill, over a cliff, by Jeremy Clarkson.

Hammond has always been the stylish one of the former, authentic ‘Top Gear’ trio – with their version of old-kids-doing-silly-stuff-in-fast-cars now showing in the guise of the ‘Grand Tour’ series.

I occasionally throw some money into a canal somewhere and something runs about!

In a Sandown winner’s enclosure that looked more akin to a ploughed field on Clarkson’s farm, Hammond was dressed to the nines.

He was there to support his wife, Mindy, who is co-owner of Farinet, who came good in the Read Nicky Henderson’s Unibet Blog Handicap Chase for Venetia Williams.

Yet in conditions that would doubtless have tractor drivers hopeful of a good pay-day pulling cars out of the quagmire, Hammond looked every bit the part.

Indeed, in his trilby, long, flowing scarf, and winning smile, he looked like a cross between Robert Downey Junior and someone auditioning for the lead part in Doctor Who.

“I love a day like this,” said Hammond. “My loyalty is such that I am here to very much support my wife Mindy – she is one of the owners of the horse and I love a day out. It’s exciting.”

The 52-year-old presenter, mechanic and writer is still wet behind the ears when it comes to horses.

Betting is not a strength, either, but he did admit to backing the 5-4 favourite.

“It did have a bet and it was the first bet that I’ve ever won!

Farinet on his way to victory (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Wire)

“We come racing a lot. Generally speaking, I’m scratching my head trying to work out how it all works.

“But on this occasion, I just put it to win on our horse.”

Not that he ventured into the colourful world of the betting ring on this occasion.

“Certainly not,” he laughed. “I just waited for someone to come and take my money off me.”

As he did so, Mindy was presented with a prize, something made of glass. The usual fare on such occasions.

“Oooh, look! She’s got a little gong! It’s all very exciting,” chirped Hammond.

“She loves it – but I have no idea how many horses we have. Honestly? You’d have to ask my wife.

“I occasionally throw some money into a canal somewhere and something runs about!

“But I love a day out and the atmosphere, and love the intensity of it, and love watching anybody do anything that they are enthusiastic about and they love. That’s satisfying.”

One thing he has learned about racing?

Back Venetia Williams horses when the deep winter ground arrives.

“Generally, that is a good idea,” he added: “I do know that much – and I was concentrating on that.”

Asked if he was about to send a very powerful car to whisk the equally fashionable trainer back to her base in Ross-on-Wye, Hammond added: “That is probably not going to happen!

“Nobody wants that… I’ve heard about her driving!”

Every the cheeky chap.

And with an elegant swish of his scarf, he zoomed off with his winning smile to the safe confines of small room to be plied with champagne.

And you could not argue that it was unwarranted – he deserved as much for being the best dressed, and a smile that helped brighten up a gloomy day in Esher.

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