One of racing’s most colourful characters. A gifted trainer, first and foremost, but he is also one of the sport’s great historians and a wonderful storyteller who, if he ever chose to, could make a fortune as an after-dinner speaker.
They don’t come much more ‘establishment’ either. An English baronet, an Old Harrovian and the son and grandson of Conservative Members of Parliament, Prescott is unashamedly old-school and non-PC.
Prescott has been training since 1970 at Heath House in Newmarket and Group 1 winners have been a rarity (eight in Britain) but most racing fans would agree that he lacks nothing in shrewdness.
Many of his horses string sequences of wins together in handicaps.
His secret? Assess your horse carefully, then seek out exactly the right races for it.
That approach has brought him more than 2,000 winners, including three Cambridgeshire Handicaps but, to his frustration, never a Cesarewitch.
Some of his campaigns have become legendary. In 1980, his two-year-old Spindrifter won 13 races in a season, equalling the record for juveniles. Between 1981 and 1985, he trained Misty Halo to 21 wins from 42 starts, a post-war record for a mare.
The other ingredient to Prescott’s success is loyalty. This is a man who sticks by you. “I have looked at many another woman, but I have never looked at another jockey,’ he once quipped of his extraordinary 30-year plus association with George Duffield, a Yorkshire miner’s son.
Prescott, who broke his back in a riding accident in 1965 aged 17, concedes that he may not be to everyone’s taste. Those of a modern, metropolitan disposition, for instance, would do well to enjoy him as a fabled raconteur rather than ask him for his views on coursing or bullfighting (although they might find him more persuasive on the subject than they would care to admit).
As Prescott puts it: “I suppose I’m not absolutely sort of conventional. I’ve got different interests. I’m out of fashion and out of time.”
2015 brought about an overdue victory in the QIPCO British Champions Series for Prescott when the giant stayer Pallasator ground out a victory in the Doncaster Cup. It was a popular success for a popular man.
And in 2017 his flying mare Marsha won the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York for him, although he was away in Ireland inspecting yearlings at the time.
In 2020, Revolver won six of his seven races but failed to justify market support in the Doncaster Cup. Meanwhile, his Alpanista beat all bear Love in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.