ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the backroom staff in racing, the lifeblood of the sport, is all too rare, which is why everyone in Ryedale who knows him was delighted that Robert ‘Monty’ Hempton was honoured at Pontefract on Monday.
Monty, who has worked for Richard Fahey for the last five years and who looks after Group 1 winner Wootton Bassett, had a race named after him in Racing Welfare’s admirable ‘Lifetime In Racing’ series, which, as the title explains, honours people behind the scenes who have spent a lifetime working in the sport.
Monty, who hails from Downpatrick in Northern Ireland, started out in 1966 with Andy Barclay in Scotland for the first three years of his apprenticeship before moving to Newmarket, where he worked for Michael Jarvis and Bernard Van Cutsem. He was associated with a whole host of top-class horses at HQ, including Park Top, Karabas and High Top.
In 1972, Monty spent a weekend with a friend in Malton and made a life-changing decision to stay – which he has to this present day.
He had a long and close association with the late, great Jimmy FitzGerald and also worked for Mark Dwyer, FitzGerald’s hugely successful stable jockey, when he went on to establish a thriving livery and pre-training yard on the outskirts of the town.
In 2006, Monty moved to Richard Fahey and has since been a vital cog in the giant Musley Bank wheel. He is responsible for medications, for preparing special feeds, and he works closely with the yearlings in the very early stages of breaking.
Blessed with a beady eye for spotting potential in his pupils, Monty has a reputation of being able to identify the best two-year-old for the following season within ten minutes in the lunge-ring!
“I am delighted that Monty had a race named after him, and enjoyed such a great day at Pontefract,” said Fahey. “Nobody deserves it more.”
The presentation of a memento to mark the occasion was, fittingly, made by Kieren Fallon, the former champion jockey, who started his British career with FitzGerald.
“We worked together when Kieren first came over from Ireland as an apprentice to join ‘Fitzy’. I was chuffed it was him who made the presentation. I had a great day and wish to thank Racing Welfare and Pontefract Racecourse for making it happen,” said this grateful and deserving recipient.