Tuesday, 10 November 2015

An interview with...Gregor Menzies

The next Q&A session in the series comes from Scotland's biggest supporter of the Le Trot series and probably the only driver in the country to drive trotters almost as regularly as pacers.  Gregor Menzies hails from Slamannan, near Falkirk, rumoured to be the coldest place in the whole of the United Kingdom (and possibly Ireland), and has enjoyed success in the 2015 season with Anniejoan (York) Wellfield Liam (York & Corbiewood), Baskerville Hall (York) and Quarillon D'Or (Aberystwyth).  Having been elected onto the handicap panel charged with formulating a new handicap system for the 2016 season, Gregor, along with his five colleagues, have played an integral part in hopefully taking the sport forward in the near future.

A man's man by all accounts, Gregor holds high rank in the Real Men's Club (RMC) an exclusive club for, well you guessed it, real men.  This writer wonders then how the revelation that Gregor's favourite drink is in fact Malibu would go down with his fellow club members...and I should know, as that's what I bought him for Christmas last year!

For anybody who doesn’t know you, how long have you been involved in the sport and where did it all start?
I've been involved in the sport all my life I was born into it.

Which is the best horse you’ve driven in your career?
Out of all the horses that I've driven I'm proud to say it was one we bred ourselves which was Catchmeifyoucam.
Which horse, past or present that you haven’t driven, would you like to drive and why?
Past horse would have to be The Cammissioner, although he was unpredictable but when he put it altogether he was unbeatable. Present horse would be Stoneriggs Mystery; his record speaks for itself.

Who did, or do, you admire as a driver?
George Kerr was my favourite driver when I was growing up because of his laid back driving style.

Which is your favourite track in the UK and Ireland?
Hard Track - York, Grass Track - Appleby.
Have you driven outside of the UK and Ireland? If not, where in the world would you choose to have one drive?
No.  I'd like to drive in the final of The Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio.

Have you ever considered moving abroad to become a professional driver?
I thought about it when I was younger but that was as far as it got.

If you could change one thing about the sport in the UK, what would it be?
I would scrap big handicap heat and finals.
Which is your favourite meeting in the UK racing calendar?
My favourite meeting of the year is the Appleby Spring meeting.

How much do you consider information from a trainer when you drive?
Quite a lot as they would know the horse better than me.

Out of all the races you have won, which has been the most memorable? Which race would you like to win that you haven’t already?
My most memorable race would have to be the time I drove Robin in the final of the Brough Appleby as I looked well beaten after breaking several times and managed to come back and win. I would like to win The famous Musselburgh Pace as my father has bragging rights. (Note: and then get the chance to propose to Lisa [Farrelly])
How would you describe your driving style? i.e. pace setter, strong closer, rail hugger?
I would describe myself as a patient driver, far too patient for my father's liking!
Where do you see yourself in the sport 10 years from now?
Still trying to win Musselburgh (With the possibility of proposing to Lisa resting on it, I'd hope you win before then!)

Which do you prefer driving - trotters or pacers?
I like driving pacers and trotters both equally, although I probably get a better buzz out of the trotters as they are newer to me.

What is your opinion on a Drivers Championship Day to select a UK representative for the World Driving Championships?  The format would be based on the top 10 drivers according to number of wins in the previous season, competing across a certain number of races on one day, driving horses that they have not previously driven (in order to replicate the actual event).
I'm all for new schemes and ideas.

Do you have any children? Would you encourage them to get involved in harness racing?
Yes I have three children: Shannon (12), Callan (9) and Connie (4). I would love it if they share my interest.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of racing?
Golf and I'm a big boxing fan.

If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be and why?
Have always wanted to go to Las Vegas to see a world champion boxing fight.
You’re stranded on a desert island – what five things can’t you live without?
Irn Bru, chocolate, heartburn tablets, Facebook, horses (and Lisa?!)

You’re holding a dinner party for five famous guests (alive or dead) – who would they be and why?
Mohammed Ali - he was the greatest sportsman ever
Stephen Fry - so he could answer all my worldly questions
Lee Mack - he would make me really laugh
Elvis - for after dinner entertainment 
Rita Ora - eye candy (in the absence of Rita, there is always Lisa)

If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
I'd go to the Royal Mint and help myself.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would spend your winnings on?
A race track with great facilities.

What would you name your autobiography?
I Wish I Could Start Over.

Which actor would play you in a film about your life?
Al Pacino.
When was the last time you got into trouble?
Got a £100 fine last year for not wearing a seat belt.
Describe yourself in three words.
Sarcastic, witty, hopeful

Thank you Gregor for taking the time to answer the above questions.  I've added a few thoughts after a brief discussion with your significant other...hope you don't mind!

Gregor & Quarillon D'Or winning at Aberystwyth
Gregor & Jennas Gold at York - they finished third together in The Famous Musselburgh Pace, the closest Gregor has been...yet.

Over and out,

#1 Groom

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