BACKSTAGE WITH AUTHOR LONGDEN

BACKSTAGE WITH AUTHOR LONGDEN

Newest chapter in his life story: across the world in six days

July 5 1958
BACKSTAGE WITH AUTHOR LONGDEN

BACKSTAGE WITH AUTHOR LONGDEN

Newest chapter in his life story: across the world in six days

July 5 1958

BACKSTAGE WITH AUTHOR LONGDEN

BACKSTAGE

Newest chapter in his life story: across the world in six days

AT A PEPPERY and somewhat vinegary 48, Maclean’s ridingest author, Johnny Longden (see page 25), continues to behave more like a skittish two-year-old constantly jumping fences than a veteran ready for the pasture. Trent Frayne, who collaborated with Longden on the story of his life for this magazine, thought that he and Longden had pinned down every last detail and committed it to manuscript when suddenly the sky-larking Longden was off again making more racing history.

In less than a week, Longden (a) flew from his home in California to London to ride Canadianowned Alberta Blue in the Epsom Derby on June 4; (b) flew from London to Toronto to ride a filly named Irene’s Orphan in the Woodbine Oaks on June 6; (c) rode another filly. Stole the Ring, in the Queen’s Plate on June 7; (d) flew back to California for racing at

Hollywood Park June 9.

Here’s Frayne. notebook in hand, catching up on the Longden story at Woodbine, right after Longden finished third with Stole the Ring in the Queen's Plate, won by Conn Smythe's Caledon Beau: FRAYNE: A busy week, eh? LONGDEN: I shoulda been second in that there Epsom Derby. There were three or four footpaths about eight or ten feet wide across the course and Alberta Blue must have thought they were ditches and kept jumping ’em. Well, we wind up under a blanket for third money and place sixth. FRAYNE: Tough race today. LONGDEN: The guy (Al Coy on Caledon Beau) went by me on the inside at the three-eighths pole. It was a big chance but he could afford to take it. He had a lot of horse. My filly just wasn’t ready. Give her another race or two and those horses won’t touch her.

FRAYNE: You had a chance to ride Smythe’s Caledon Beau, didn’t you? Sorry now?

LONGDEN: I had a broken leg when Smythe wired me. I didn’t answer right away so he got another boy. That Smythe! I’d sooner run third for the man I rode for than win for Smythe.

Longden, who also rode a horse named Mr. Jive and won (his 5,262nd victory in a 31-year career) while at Woodbine, also offered these comments: On Canadian race horses — “You can feel the improvement in class, like the difference between a high-powered car and a good car." On Canadian jockeys — “They need experience. They oughta get around more.”