Former chairman of Fakenham Racecourse David Wales dies aged 83

David Wales, pictured at Fakenham in 2010. Picture: Ian Burt

David Wales, pictured at Fakenham in 2010. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A well-known member of the Norfolk equestrian scene, former hunt master and chairman of Fakenham Racecourse has passed away aged 83.

David Wales was well-known in steeplechasing and point-to-pointing circles not just in East Anglia but across the country for more than 60 years.

He lived all his life in Marham, near King's Lynn, where he was a farmer.

He was the national champion point-to-point rider in 1959 and notched a career tally of 110 victories between the flags.

He also enjoyed a good deal of success at racing under professional National Hunt rules.

His career included landing the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown Park in 1972 aboard Skygazer and in 1975 aboard Playbill and when partnering the high class hurdler, Black Diamond, in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

As both an owner and trainer his top horses included the prolific winning point-to-pointer Highland Trout; Apache Chief, the Royal Artillery Gold Cup hero of 1976; and Swift Wood, who was ridden to victory by his son, William, in the 1980 renewal of the John Corbet Novice Champion Hunter Chase.

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Mr Wales was also a former master of the Necton-based West Norfolk Foxhounds, which are said to be the country's oldest hunt.

He broke his back twice in accidents during his riding career, the second mishap prompting him to hang up his jockey's silks for good.

Tragically his younger son, Bob, died following a fall during the West Norfolk point-to-point at Fakenham in 1982, but his older brother William enjoyed a fruitful career in the saddle, notching up 92 point-to-point winners plus a further 28 in hunter chases.

David Wales also served a three-year term as the chairman of Fakenham Racecourse and enjoyed supporting meetings at his local course right up until his death.

He passed away in the Queen ELizabeth Hospital after a short illness just before Christmas. He leaves a wife, Victoria, son William, daughter Jo and grandchildren Oliver, Hannah, Toby and Hamish.

There will be a private family cremation. A service of thanksgiving for his life will be held at St Peter and St Paul Church in Swaffham on Wednesday, February 14, at 2pm.