Southrepps sheepdog’s moment of sporting fame

A Norfolk sheepdog who found national fame when he joined in a horse race has died.

Monty the excited collie puppy strained at the leash while watching his first ever horse race at Fakenham - then broke free and joined the action.

For an adrenaline-pumping few seconds he careered along behind the front runner horses on they sped towards the finishing line, and even followed them over a fence, before being scared by the thundering pack behind and running back to his relieved master.

The incident at the March meeting in 1997 provided a television clip that went 'viral'.

Firstly it amused punters in bookies shops across the country, then was broadcast on racing television programmes, and later on featured on Question of Sport's 'what happened next' section as well as the Aunties Sporting Bloomers out-takes show.

Monty has just died aged 14 and a half, and his exploits - which remained mostly anonymous apart from among a few folk in his home village of Southrepps, have been revealed by owner Martin Campbell.

'He was just nine months old at the time. It was his first time at a horse race and he was really excited.

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'The horses were on their third lap of a steeplechase when the lead snapped and off he went - covering about 200 yards and climbing over a fence before he came running back.

'There was just a public address reminder for people to keep control of their dogs. I put Monty in the car afterwards, and when we did go back to the races it was with an extra strong lead.

Mr Campbell, a retired personnel director for BP, who is parish clerk to councils at Erpingham, Ingworth, Paston and Walcott in North Norfolk, said the clip was also used by top jockey Frankie Dettori in a video called Horsing Around which flagged up funny moments from the sport of kings.

The jockey's commentary as Monty scaled the third from last in fourth place was 'even this high fence cannot put off this collie what thinks he is a steeplechaser.'

After his brief equestrian career, Monty's sporting prowess was channelled in other directions, after Mr Campbell saw a dog agility display at Cromer carnival, and joined the training club at Coltishall.

The dog went on to win 200 rosettes at event all over the country, topped by a national class win at a big event at Ipswich in 2001. He even had a spell as a model appearing on the front cover of Your Dog magazine in 1999.

Monty was well-known as a 'regular' at his local pub the Vernon Arms nestling at the feet of his master after walks, but Mr Campbell admitted that despite Monty's wall full of rosettes, his faithful pet was most likely to be remembered for his fleeting, and mostly anonymous, moment as a thoroughbred galloper.