When is it going to end … first you have 64 year old, Neville Wilson, riding a treble at Warrnambool in December and then you have Norm Stephens declaring that he’s going to hang up his (trackwork) saddle in March … at the age of 80!
The Courier Mail’s Bart Sinclair takes up the tale:
HOLD the presses! Here’s a massive story. Norm Stephens has declared (make that promised) he will stop riding trackwork at Deagon on March 17, his 80th birthday.
Stephens still trains a couple of horses at Deagon and rises every morning at 2am.
He is first on the track six mornings a week and usually is home by the time most others in racing in the area are still getting ready to start work.
“I started riding work at Deagon as an apprentice when I was 12,” said Stephens (below), who is light enough and fit enough to still be race riding.
I always thought ‘Whopper’, as he has been known since he first started in racing because of his tiny stature, would have to give up riding racehorses one day. I just didn't think it would be a voluntary decision.
Let’s hope he maintains his connection to racing as a trainer for many years yet.
Just as a matter of interest, when Whopper first started riding in 1943 King George VI was the reigning monarch (see the King’s Speech … it’s brilliant), John Curtin was our 14th Prime Minister (we’ve now got our 27th), World War II still had two years to run, Casablanca won the Oscar for best picture, Richmond won the flag (they’ve won since, right?) and Carbine’s great-great grandson, Dark Felt, won the Melbourne Cup.