A few months ago I was approached by Jim McInally, Vice Chairman of the BHRC, with regard to interviewing driver Richard Haythornthwaite for a feature article in the forthcoming BHRC Calendar. Jim felt that in light of winning two of the four major handicap finals in the 2015 season (Appleby Monday on Rhyds Yankee and Aberystwyth Saturday with Imjustalittleguy), it would be good to find out a bit more about Richard, as a driver and as an individual. Why Jim asked me to do this, I couldn't tell you. It might be because I offered my assistance with anything that the BHRC requested, or because Richard and I have a very good relationship (I am his 'agent', tasked with getting him catch drives wherever possible - which has proven to be a very difficult job despite his clear talent as a driver). Whatever the reason, my brief was to find out more about Richard, and ask interesting questions outwith the usual 'what's your favourite music?' or 'what's your favourite film?'. With that in mind, I set about compiling a list of questions to get inside the mind of one of Britain's best drivers. The interview has recently been published in the Calendar and I have already been tasked with my second interview, which will hopefully feature in the next edition.
So impressed with my own set of questions, I decided that it would be fun to put them to other drivers, as a feature to introduce the 'celebrities' within our sport; the people who showboat, who get involved in driving finishes to the line, the men and women who risk a lot to sit behind the horses that we own, train and gamble on a weekly basis.
Taking into consideration that I write primarily about harness racing in Scotland, I thought that Scottish drivers might be the best place to start. So with all of that in mind, the first person I spoke to was the charming, polite and all-round top guy, Scott Murray. At 27 years of age he is one of the younger drivers on the circuit. I have been more than impressed with his driving talent since I met him last year, so much so that when our stable jockey was unavailable to drive for us this summer, Scott was the person that was drafted in to drive Shes Some Deal and Wild Bill Hickok for us. No doubt in the future he will be asked to drive for us again.
For anybody who doesn’t know you, how long have you been involved in the sport and where did it all start?
I have been involved in the sport from the age of 10. My dad got involved in harness racing at a young age and so I got the bug as well.
Which is the best horse you’ve driven in your career?
The best horse I have driven would have to be Alan Scot. I have had the most wins with him and love driving him.
Which horse, past or present that you haven’t driven, would you like to drive and why?
I would liked to have driven Dillys Decision, I loved watching that horse in my younger days.
Who did, or do, you admire as a driver?
I'd have to say Mick Lord, for me he's been amazing for all of his career.
Which is your favourite track in the UK and Ireland?
Best track for me is Tir Prince. I used to go there when on holiday in Wales with the family. Was amazing as a kid watching the racing there.
Have you driven outside of the UK and Ireland? If not, where in the world would you choose to have one drive?
No I haven't, but if I had one drive outside the UK and Ireland it would have to be the Little Brown Jug final.
Which is your favourite meeting in the UK racing calendar?
Aberystwyth is a fantastic meeting, that would be my favourite.
Which race would you like to win that you haven’t already?
I would love to win the Famous Musselburgh Pace final. But who doesn't?!
How would you describe your driving style? i.e. pace setter, strong closer, rail hugger?
I would have to say pace setter; better being in front.
With the unfortunate loss of your training facilities this year, do you envisage that you will remain in the sport long term?
With us losing our training facility, I will just have to hope for some catch drives now and then. But I will always be at trots, it's just too good not to be a part of it.
Which do you prefer driving, trotters or pacers?
I prefer driving pacers but to be fair I have not driven a lot of trotters. I had a shot of Mr Leone for a month this season and he was a great little horse to drive.
What do you do for a living, seeing as driving isn’t your full time occupation?
I am a joiner by trade.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of racing?
Outside of racing I like a bit of football or anything active. I hate sitting about.
If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to go to Australia, it's always been somewhere I've wanted to go.
You’re holding a dinner party for five famous guests (alive or dead) – who would they be and why?
I'd have to invite Johnny Cash because I love the man's music. Elvis as well. Steven Gerrard, the man is my hero. Tom Cruise too, it would be nice to meet him. And Cheryl from Girls Aloud - she's a hottie!
If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
If I was invisible for a day I'd rob a bank so I could buy a field and build a track and stables!
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would spend your winnings on?
Same as the above! Buy some land and build a track and stables!
Which actor would play you in a film about your life?
Tom Cruise would play me, we are basically twins! (Note: Scott and Tom Cruise look NOTHING alike, and Scott has to be at least half a foot taller than him! But I suppose if he invited him to the dinner party he could ask him to star in the film?!)
Describe yourself in three words.
Happy, fun, honest.
|Scott driving Prince Lee Scot (aka Monty)|
|Scott driving heat and final winner Alan Scot (aka Barney), Friday 29th May 2015|
Thank you to Scott for taking the time to answer my questions. For any owners or trainers out there looking for a catch driver, keep this young man in mind. On the occasions where he has driven horses outwith the ones trained by him and his father, he has had decent results. I look forward to putting him on our own horses in the future, and hope that both him and his family are able to continue in the sport going forward.
Over and out,