Wednesday, 23 December 2015

An interview with...William Greenhorn

Right folks, this is the last one for 2015 as I'm taking a short break from writing to concentrate on eating my entire body weight in Christmas food!  So to round off the first part of the series of interviews with some of Scotland's biggest driving characters, I now present to you one of the country's greatest role models to young drivers - William 'Super Sub' Greenhorn.  Don't be fooled by his nickname, this driver has an impact no matter where he competes or what he drives.  He has an uncanny knack of picking up catch drives in major handicap finals and winning with them, and he performs to the highest standard whether it's at Musselburgh or Corbiewood, and across the United Kingdom and Ireland as well.  To top it all off, he's an all-round top guy, never too busy for a chat or to offer advice to some of the up and coming drivers on the Scottish circuit.  Here he tells me a bit more about the man behind the golden hands...

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 for over 30 years now, my dad initially owned horses back in the 70s for a few years.  He fell back into it in the 80s which is when I got involved.

Which is the best horse you've ever driven?
I have numerous that could fall into that category but I would have to opt for Today I Say as she treated me to my first sub-two minute mile back in 2005.  More recent would be our own Jack Swagger, he has a mass of potential.

Which horse, past or present that you haven't driven, would you like to drive and why?
Stoneriggs Mystery, as he's just been such a superstar from the first day he stepped onto the track.  Track or distance it just doesn't matter, he is the best.

Who did, or do, you admire as a driver?
Mick Lord.

Which is your favourite track in the UK and Ireland?
Tir Prince, I would love for something similar to be in Scotland.

Have you driven outside the UK and Ireland?  If not, where in the world would you choose to have one drive?
No.  Mohawk or The Meadowlands.

Have you ever considered moving abroad to become a professional driver?
Yes, Canada, but not necessarily to drive just to be involved at a good level.  Never say never.

If you could change one thing about the sport in the UK, what would it be?
Removal of the doubters and people trying to hold the sport back.

Which is your favourite meeting in the UK racing calendar?
Musselburgh.

How much do you consider information from a trainer when you drive?
Highly, no one knows a horse better than the person working with it daily.

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?
It has to be the Famous Musselburgh Pace final (on Mahogany Jasper), one big final a season makes it the one!  The Tregaron Welsh Classic of the Crock of Gold are missing from the CV so any one would be nice.

How would you describe your racing style?
Tactical.

Where do you see yourself in the sport 10 years from now?
I would love to say Canada but that might be a thought too far.  Hopefully still healthy and doing what I do now would be nice.

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)?
Sounds like a great idea, this would then put everyone on a level playing field on the day of the event.

Do you have any children?  Would you encourage them to get involved in harness racing in the future?
I have two boys who love going racing but not sure if they will keep the family tradition going into the future.  I certainly wouldn't stop them if they chose to.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of racing?
My boys take up most of my spare time with their football and golf commitments.  When I can, I enjoy playing football and spending time with my family.

If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be and why?
New York, it looks amazing.  It's on my 'to do' list.

You're stranded on a desert island - what five things can't you live without?
My phone, chocolate, sun glasses, sun cream and my wife...to apply the sun cream.

You're holding a dinner party for five famous guests (alive or dead) - who would they be and why?
AP McCoy, David Beckham (both absolute legends in my eyes), Keith Lemon (crude humour), The Proclaimers (musical talent, they will need to share a chair however), & Michelle Keegan (eye candy).

If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
Follow my brother (Alan Greenhorn) around I think, I always wonder what he gets up to on a daily basis.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would spend your winnings on?
This is easy as I have this conversation almost monthly with a racing friend.  A new racetrack in Scotland, 5/8 in size with all the facilities for it to be a training centre also.

What would you name your autobiography?
'The Nugget', for some reason some of my racing friends gave me this name a number of years back.

Which actor would play you in a film about your life?
Matt Damon (it has been full of adventure).

When was the last time you got into trouble?
Almost daily for not putting my clothes away!

Describe yourself in three words.
Easy going, caring and thorough (Yet ANOTHER Scottish driver who doesn't know the difference between 3 and 4...all is forgiven as I'm full of the Christmas spirit(s) and the rest of the interview was exceptional!).
William & Ayrosmith at Tregaron, 2015 (photo courtesy of Irfon Bennett)
Fighting out a finish against brother-in-law Gordon Gilvear and young gun Tony Allan at Corbiewood
There are no words...
William & Kestrels Rogue winning the Appleby Spring Final in 2012
Thank you to 'The Nugget' for his answers, a most enjoyable read.

Fear not dear readers, I am already sourcing the next batch of drivers to continue part two of the series in the new year.  This will include the legendary Willie Drysdale (IF I can track him down), a notoriously difficult man to keep still for any length of time and also one of the few people in UK and Irish harness racing who doesn't have Facebook!  But I am an eternal optimist and after over 12 months of not speaking to each other (mutual fear of one another), we broke through the barrier to become unlikely friends after sharing a dancefloor in Aberystwyth.  Watch this space.

Merry Christmas everyone, have a blast!

Over and out,

#1 Festive Groom

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