FAMILY, friends and racing colleagues packed St Andrew’s Church in Woolaston to say goodbye to legendary county trainer Milton Bradley, who died last month aged 88.
Former jockey Guy Lewis said Rockfield-born “Milt”, who sent out over 1,000 race winners, was famous for “giving people chances in life, a chance to prove themselves.”
He added: “Milton liked to take chances himself and more often than not he came out on top.”
Mr Bradley was born near Monmouth on January 5, 1935, but moved with his parents to The Meads near Chepstow at the age of eight where he would spend the rest of his life.
He joined the young farmers’ club and became an accomplished plougher, finishing runner-up in the world championships.
His many ploughing trophies are still proudly on display at Meads Farm.
He met his beloved future wife, Ruth at an event at the Sedbury farm, a stone’s throw from Chepstow Racecourse, which was then being run as a country club.
He began his training career on the Welsh pony racing circuit, turning his attention to point-to-point in the late 1960s.
It was a friendly rivalry on the point-to-point circuit that developed the friendship between Mr Lewis’s family and the Bradleys.
Mr Bradley “caught the racing bug” in his mid-30s and took out a permit in 1969.
His first jumps winner was Cwrt Bleddyn at Taunton in 1970 and his first on the flat was at Bath three years later.
Mr Lewis said: “It was evident very early on that Milton had a shrewd eye for a horse and he never liked paying too much.
“His early purchases included Mighty Marine and Offa’s Mead, bought out of a local field for £100 each.
“Mighty Marine won seven times in 1975 and a further seven times the following year.
“Offa’s Mead also won plenty of races and landed Milton his first, big televised race at Ascot, putting JM Bradley firmly on the map.
“Milton was instrumental in helping to kickstart many jockeys’ careers
“Competition for rides was always strong with Luke Harvey, Dai Tegg, Rodney Farrant and myself all keen to get whatever rides we could during the 90s and noughties.”
Another local lad who rode for Mr Bradley was Jason Weaver who went on to have a successful riding career and is now a respected broadcaster.
The trainer was “catapaulted onto the big stage” by the success of The Tatling which he bought for £15,000.
He finished runner-up in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York three years running and the Prix de l’Abbye at Longchamps in France in 2004.
In the same year he won the Group Two King Stands Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Six years ago, at the age of 82, the trainer stunned racegoers with a 1,121-1 treble at Lingfield.
Mr Bradley’s 50 year career saw 1,037 winners, with the last one an 80-1 outsider at Kempton in December 2020.
Mr Lewis fondly remembered the “iconic” breakfasts at Meads Farm cooked by Mr Bradley’s wife, Ruth.
He said: “Ruth was always the best host and a jockey’s waistline was always in jeopardy.
“Around the breakfast table family members would all congregate.
“Daughters Sue and Ange would always be about and son Dick would take a break from his lorries.
“Ruth was always busy taking phone calls from jockey’s agents and owners or making entries for future races while taking instructions from Milton.
“And Ruth would do all this while making the tea, cooking the breakfasts and looking after the grandchildren, Hayley Chris, Soph and Dan, Sarah Jason, Josh and Amy, Laura and John.
“Milton, being a family man, made a habit of naming horses after the grandchildren, some were good, some not so good.”
He added: “He lived a fulfilled life, a life that many of us can only dream of. Milton was proud of what he achieved but also very humble.”
The service was conducted by Rev Mike Kippax of Lydney and Mr Bradley was laid to rest on his land at Sedbury.
Chepstow Racecourse’s executive director Phil Bell also said in a tribute after the trainer’s death: “The fact Milton was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 ROA Welsh Horse Racing Awards says it all.
“He received a standing ovation that night from an emotional audience that included members of his family, friends and peers.
“He was hugely respected by his colleagues in the training ranks and had a multitude of friends in and around the Chepstow area. He will be greatly missed.”