Anthony Bingham Mildmay, 2nd Baron Mildmay of Flete
Anthony Bingham Mildmay, 2nd Baron Mildmay of Flete (14 April 1909 – 12 May 1950) was a gifted amateur steeplechaser who kindled the Queen Mother’s interest in National Hunt racing.
Birth, education and military service
Mildmay was the son of Francis Bingham Mildmay, 1st Baron Mildmay of Flete and Alice Grenfell. He was educated at St Cyprian's School, where he was encouraged to ride on the South Downs, Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a Captain in the Welsh Guards and fought in World War II. He succeeded to the title of 2nd Baron Mildmay of Flete on 8 February 1947.
"Nitty" Mildmay a gaunt, stoop-shouldered six-footer, was a famous and popular amateur steeplechaser. He rode in the Grand National before and after the war being a persistent "trier", despite some bad luck. In 1936, riding the 100-1 Davy Jones, he was leading at the 2nd to last fence when a buckle on the reins broke and the horse ran out. In 1947 he fell at Folkestone and injured his neck, which gave rise to disabling attacks of cramp. In the 1948 Grand National he finished third on his favourite horse Cromwell, although an attack of the cramp had rendered him a passenger. During his career, he rode no less than 32 winners in one season. He rode eight winners at Cheltenham Racecourse, including three at The Festival.
However Mildmay’s most notable legacy was in kindling the Queen Mother’s passion for jump racing which lasted until her death. At a dinner in Windsor Castle in 1949, Mildmay sat next to Queen Elizabeth and persuaded her that he should buy her a horse, to share with her daughter, then Princess Elizabeth. Mildmay’s trainer Peter Cazalet selected Monaveen for them and it won his first race for them at Fontwell Park Racecourse, finished second in the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree Racecourse, and then took the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Chase at Hurst Park (now the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse).
Death by drowning
In 1950, Mildmay suffered an attack of cramp while swimming off the south Devon coast and drowned at the age of 41. He was unmarried and the title became extinct.
He left his horses to Cazalet and among them was Manicou, which became the Queen Mother's second steeplechaser. He is commemorated in several events initiated by his friends – the Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase (presently known as the Byrne Group Plate) at Cheltenham, the Mildmay Stakes at Newton Abbot Racecourse, and the Anthony Mildmay-Peter Cazalet Memorial Chase at Sandown Park. The Mildmay Course at Aintree, opened in 1953, was also named after him.
- ↑ Graham Rock "The racing royal whose beloved horses gave her huge happiness " in The Observer Sunday March 31, 2002 Guardian Unlimited full text (accessed 15 January 2008).
- ↑ See The Times, 1950-06-07 page 6, column D - "Lord Mildmay's body recovered: Found in Falmouth Bay".
- Henry Longhurst My Life and Soft Times
- L. G. Pine, The New Extinct Peerage 1884-1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages With Genealogies and Arms (London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1972)
- Richard Stone Reeves Crown Jewels of Thoroughbred Racing Blood-Horse Publications, 1997