Franny Norton. A knockout at Chester Races

Franny Norton. A knockout at Chester Races

Franny NortonWhy is it that some horses do best at certain racecourses? Come to that, why do certain jockeys have more winners at particular racecourses?

I confess I have no idea.

Chester Races begins on Wednesday and a man who always does well there is Franny Norton. Former boxer, now a winning jockey with a personality to match.


Franny says: “Chester is my favourite racecourse. I’ve been lucky enough to be very successful there and the atmosphere is always great.”

At one point I feared he would not be at Chester for the May meetings. But Norton is as tough as they come.

He’s had some bad injuries, has Franny. But he knows how to fall. Although he only lost one of his 50 fights in the boxing ring, he took some hard knocks. He keeps fit and knows that recovering correctly from injuries sustained on the track can only lengthen his career in the saddle.

He says: “Over the years I’ve had a few nasty riding accidents. In November of 2005 I was involved in a seven horse pile up and punctured a lung, broke a collarbone, broke some ribs, broke my ankle and pulled ligaments away from the ankle joint. It took three months before I could get back to the track.

“I also had a bad fall at Kempton which resulted in having a screw and plate put in my right ankle, and there was also an incident with a two year old rearing in the stalls, which left me with two hairline fractures of my fibula.”

And that wasn’t the last time a rearing horse shipped Norton. At Leicester last year he had just got the leg up on a horse trained by Mark Johnston when the filly reared up on the chute exiting the paddock.

Franny takes up the story: “When the filly reared I fell to my side, then she fell on top of me. I knew straight away that I had broken something as I heard the crack when the filly came over. I knew it was bad when I saw my foot was not pointing where it should have been.

“I saw the paramedics, so I shouted to them that my leg was broken and I needed morphine. Within two minutes I was injected. I never lost conciousness. I had surgery twice in four days. A rod was put into my leg and secured with four screws.

“On the Saturday the surgeons decided that I wasn’t going to need a skin graft so I had an operation to close the open fracture. Thirty stitches later and the wound was closed. I was home the following day.”

He had sustained fractures of the right tibia and fibula. But, with the help of specialists and the latest technology, Franny Norton recovered to ride another day.

chester racecourse postpones plan for jumps racing

The historic Roodee racecourse. Photo by Vernon Grant

And he will be on the Roodee for the Chester May meeting.

Being drawn in a low numbered stall is often a positive for horses and jockeys, especially over the short distance races.

Franny Norton is back in action now and his strike rate at Chester the past 12 months is over 20%. So it’s safe to say that he knows the way to the winners’ enclosure.


I’m hoping to back a winner of his this coming week. Come join me at VG TIPS in time for the May meeting at Chester.



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