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Wootton, Francis Leonard (Frank) (1893–1940)

from Manning River Times (NSW)

Frank Wootton, rated as one of the greatest jockeys the world has known, died suddenly in Sydney on Saturday week. Born at Glebe on Dec. 14, 1893, he was the son of Mr. Richard Wootton.

As a small boy, Frank Wootton went to South Africa with his father, and there rode his first winner at the age of 10 years. He displayed great promise and immediately caught the attention of English racing men when the family moved to England in 1906.

In that year, Frank rode his first English winner at Folkstone – his father's horse Retrieve – when still only 12 years of age. His record for the 1906 English season was 16 wins from 67 mounts. In the following year, he had 39 wins from 282 mounts. In 1908, he was second on the list of winning jockeys with 129 wins from 602 mounts. Then, in four successive years, he headed the list with 165 wins (1909), 187 (1910), 187 (1611), and 118 (1912). He dropped back to second place in 1913 as increasing weight limited his opportunities.

Wootton reached the peak of his form in 1911 when his mounts totalled 747 and his winning percentage was slightly better than 25. His only classic winners in his brief and brilliant riding career were Peroia, in the Oaks of 1909, and Swynford, in the St. Leger of 1910. His last winning mount on the flat was on Sir E. Hulton's Fairy King in the Autumn Plate at Warwick in 1914.

On the outbreak of war in 1914, Wootton went to the East as a soldier and it was there that he gained a liking for riding over obstacles. At Bagdad, on November 20, 1920, he rode several winners, and in the following year had his first mount in an English hurdle race, at Birmingham, finishing third. The same afternoon, he won the Burton Hurdle on Bobby-dazzler. In 1921, he headed the list of winning jockeys under National Hunt Glub rules, and the performance is said to be without peer for such a successful flat rider. He continued to ride under National Hunt rules until 1923, and a few years later came to Australia to live permanently.

In the early nineties the late Mr. and Mrs. William Wootton (grand-parents of the late Frank Wootton) conducted the old Steam Packet Hotel, then situated at the Corner of Victoria and Commerce Streets, Taree. It was destroyed by fire some years after.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Wootton, Francis Leonard (Frank) (1893–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/wootton-francis-leonard-frank-13286/text35052, accessed 19 July 2019.

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