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Banjo & Lettsy

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Gay3 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 31 Oct 2014 at 1:07pm

I'll bow out with my old mate Banjo, says retired jockey John Letts

  • SCOTT WALSH
  • Sunday Mail (SA)
  • November 02, 2013 10:09PM

Former jockey John Letts with his old mate, 25-year-old Banjo. Picture: Nicole Garmston.

Former jockey John Letts with his old mate, 25-year-old Banjo. Picture: Nicole Garmston.

JOHN Letts could go for another 10 years, he reckons, or more. But his old mate, Banjo, might not have the puff to make it through another Spring Carnival.

So regardless of how much energy this 70-year-old retired jockey has, he's vowed to hang up the Channel 7 microphone when Banjo - now 25 and Letts's Spring Carnival partner for the past 20 years - has had enough.

"When he finishes, I finish," Letts says.

"I don't want to do it without him - he's been me mate for 20 years. I've been the whole journey with the old boy and he's just been so good.

"I can't see myself on another horse. (Banjo's owner) Johnny Patterson's got plenty of others, and he said 'I'll get another one ready for you'.

"But I said, 'you won't be getting another one ready for me. When the old boy goes, I go.'

"We'll go to the line together."

As for where the finishing post sits, Letts says Tuesday's Melbourne Cup might be his last unless Banjo continues to defy his age and an exhausting carnival workload with stunning resilience.

"It'll be this year or next," Letts says.

"He'll be 26 next year, so he's pushing it.

"We do 80 interviews in Cup week, 40 more in the lead-up.

"I'm on his back for six hours a day and the only rest he gets is to put his head in the trough between races.

"But he's still looking all right."

Dual Melbourne Cup winner Letts and Banjo - a stock horse whose real name is Trewarrick Impulse - revolutionised televised racing at the 1993 Melbourne Cup when they paired for on-track interviews with winning jockeys immediately following the race that stops a nation.

They have paired in every carnival since, expanding to each race on the card at free-to-air meetings.

The idea came from an earlier experiment involving Letts at Oakbank, but this iconic man and horse combination has since become a legendary part of Melbourne's famed racing season.

"All the jocks love him. Glen Boss - he'll put his arm around him after he's ridden a winner, and I say 'gee Bossy, you're riding that one, not this one','' Letts laughs.

"In a way it's going to be sad when it happens but it will also be a celebration because everybody loves him."

Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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subastral View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote subastral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2014 at 1:15pm
Good story Gay, Banjo and Lettsy are such a big part of the carnival, and a far more enjoyable aspect of 7's coverage than annoying fashion and marquee crap...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2014 at 8:16pm
yeah, I agree with Subby.   I love seeing that pair doing their thing.
all that fashion garbage , and  "famous people " being interviewed , etc ,  is just so so boring.
mind bogglingly BORING !  more that 80% of them are airheads and i dont even know who they are.
and who cares who "dressed " them Cry  cant they dress themselves FF$  ?
it should be all about the horses and horse people, not these fashionistas who dont have a clue.
bring on Banjo and Lettsy I say !!
animals before people.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote horlicks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2014 at 9:14pm
Samuel Hyland @HylandSamuel  ·  5h 5 hours ago

Lettsy will be missed this week but looking forward 2 b filling in on Max

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote SkyDancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Nov 2014 at 8:56pm
Originally posted by acacia alba acacia alba wrote:

yeah, I agree with Subby.   I love seeing that pair doing their thing.
all that fashion garbage , and  "famous people " being interviewed , etc ,  is just so so boring.
mind bogglingly BORING !  more that 80% of them are airheads and i dont even know who they are.
and who cares who "dressed " them Cry  cant they dress themselves FF$  ?
it should be all about the horses and horse people, not these fashionistas who dont have a clue.
bring on Banjo and Lettsy I say !!

exactly what i would of said 
IT'S OKAY TO SAY NO.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PhillipC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2014 at 5:46pm
Sad that they won't be there this year (if I'm reading Horlicks post correctly). Last year he had Lettsy had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and told the doctor the op would have to wait until after the Spring Carnival and he didn't tell many about his diagnosis. I hope he's well, but gosh he will be missed.

I agree with the fashion side of it, most that are there aren't the slightest bit interested in the horses or the races, they're just there to be seen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2014 at 8:40am
Written nearly 2mths ago, this explains his absence, for those of us who had little or no idea.

Master jockey John Letts becomes the apprentice in a bid to get back to the Melbourne Cup Carnival

  • CRAIG COOK
  • The Advertiser
  • September 12, 2014 10:49PM
Back in the saddle — John Letts learning to ride again on Bogie with Jo Taylor and Linda

Back in the saddle — John Letts learning to ride again on Bogie with Jo Taylor and Linda Smith. Picture: Tricia Watkinson.

JOHN Letts will ride again at the Melbourne Cup Carnival after a devastating year battling cancer and other health issues that saw the legendary former jockey lose the confidence to even sit on a horse.

In an exclusive interview with The Advertiser, the man know across the nation as the “Punter’s Pal” has confirmed he will reunite at Flemington with his faithful steed, Banjo, the horse he has sat on to interview the winning jockey of the Melbourne Cup for the past 20 years.

The Cup master — who won the race that stops the nation as a jockey on Piping Lane (1972) and Beldale Ball (1980) — has had to become the apprentice on a 10 month journey back to full health and fitness.

He has relied on Jo Taylor and Linda Smith, two of the trainers at the TAFE SA Apprentice Riding Academy at Morphettville, to help him get back in the saddle.

“I only got on a horse for the first time since last year’s Melbourne Cup carnival on Monday and I couldn’t even stay on,” Letts said.

“I’ve been riding for nearly 60 years and I just couldn’t imagine losing all confidence like I have.

“The girls have had me walking around slowly on a horse for a few days and then today I’ve trotted and cantered a horse a few laps all on my own.”

Known for his love of a chat, Linda has been wearing a T-shirt with a simply message for “Lettsy” to keep his mind on the job.

It reads: “Shut up — and ride”

Just days after being a leading member of Channel 7’s Melbourne Cup coverage at the four-day Flemington Carnival last November, the 71-year-old entered hospital in Adelaide for surgery to remove a cancerous prostate.

A routine blood test was the first indication that Letts had the cancer that kills about 3400 men a year in Australia.

He had a longer that expected period of recuperation due to a surgical complication and then underwent a hernia operation.

An imbalance in prescribed medications added significantly to issues.

Channel 7 executives flew to Adelaide this week to check on the health of their star Spring Carnival performer.

“The network have been so supportive of me and given me every chance to get back to the Cup,” Letts added.

‘They’ve told me I won’t have to do all 40 odd races of the Cup Carnival and just to focus on the main events.

“They have been loyal to me and I want to repay that loyalty so I’m working extra hard.”

Letts caught up with John Patterson, the Flemington clerk of the course and the man who owns Banjo, this week at the Adelaide Royal Show.

Letts named Banjo — a stock horse whose real name is Trewarrick Impulse — after his owner who shares a surname with the great bush poet, Andrew “Banjo” Patterson.

“Patto said if I was coming back then Banjo could come out of retirement,” Letts said.

“No one else will be allowed to ride Banjo except me and if for any reason I don’t make it back he won’t be back to Flemington either.”

Regarded as cult heroes today, the duo revolutionised televised racing at the 1993 Melbourne Cup Carnival when they first paired for on-track interviews with winning jockeys immediately after the completion of races.

Letts said the news he would be back at the Cup was would please the medical professionals that have helped his recovery.

“All my doctors said I’d make it back to the Cup this year but I’ve really been doubting that would happen,” he added.

“I feel like a kid again knowing I’m on my way.”


Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Go Flash Go Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2014 at 6:47pm
Well it's the trying that counts and as he gets stronger the doubts will vanish.
 
When he was in the barriers on Piping Lane he said to the jockey next to him we're only here to make up the numbers (old loveable George never gave much away)
 
Racing will take care of him again no doubt, that's why we love it.
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