The Field

Paladin’s War THE STORY BEHIND Old Gold Racing

By the 1930s, the Holbech clan had lived in Warwickshire for more than 700 years. Ronald Holbech was director of Banbury brewers Hunt Edmunds and active on the board of Banbury hospital (where the children’s ward is still named after him). He was also an alderman for the County of Warwick.

A family gambler had lost the Canalettos, a Panini, and most of the money, but Ronnie Holbech, necessarily careful with cash, was a racing man. He stewarded at Towcester, Stratford, Warwick, Worcester and Cheltenham. He was also an owner and dreamed, as they all do, of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. His silks were designed to symbolise the gilded froth effervescing up and over a pint of Hunt Edmunds Supreme Pale Ale: old gold, with a white belt and cap.

Paladin was black. He had won four out of eight races in 1937, becoming a favourite of the punting public. After war was declared his Edgerton House Stables were taken over by the Army. With nowhere to go, 10 geldings were shot. Paladin was sent to the November sales, where Holbech bought him for 125 guineas.

Paladin’s first engagement was to have been at Leicester in January 1940, however the Thames

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