When the BBC hired champion jockey Willie Carson and sports journalist Clare Balding to anchor their televised racing coverage, producers were faced with a problem.
At 6ft 4inches, Clare towered over her 5ft tall co-host. So they knocked up a metal box for Willie to stand on, and inscribed it: “This is the extra seven inches you asked for.”
The dream team went their separate ways after Ascot in 2012, and now Willie’s platform will be going under the hammer at an auction in Cirencester, with a guide price of £150 to £200.
The lot is being sold at Moore Allen & Innocent’s Sporting Sale on Friday, August 30 on behalf of the Gloucestershire Chest Fund, which diagnoses and treats people with chest disease.
It was donated to the charity by Willie, who lives in the county. And the platform, described by the auctioneers as ‘a tubular metal framed stand with textured platform top’ will be sold – commission free – along with a photograph of Willie holding the box at the 2013 Gloucestershire Chest Fund AGM.
Willie Carson rode nearly 4,000 winners during his 34-year racing career, but probably never mounted anything as odd as the racing emu that goes under the hammer at the same sale.
Pictured alongside a stuffed and mounted rhea on the cover of the auction catalogue, both birds were originally from the Peter Farrington Collection, but the emu has more recently been given a saddle and sprung legs, and has been used as a photographer’s prop.
A bid of £250 to £300 should secure the rhea, while £300 to £500 will rein in the emu.
Reins – or rather hands gripping reins – are getting collectors excited about a chromolithograph on the wall of the saleroom.
The Finest View in Europe – signed in pencil by the artist Snaffles – is a hunting scene painted from the perspective of a hunt follower, looking over the ears of his mount, with hounds running and a number of hedges to jump.
Aficionados will know that the rarest version of this picture features the hands and sleeves of the rider gripping the reins, which is what makes this chromolithograph – despite some wear and tear – worth £500 to £700.
Back in the taxidermy section, a tiger skin with mounted head on a green felt backing, attributed to the renowned taxidermist Rowland Ward, could attract one of the highest lot prices of the day, with an estimate of £2,500 to £3,500, while collectors are setting their sites on a rare 19th century German dreiling gun, with a 16 bore double barrelled shotgun set above a rifle.
Dreiling guns – from the German word drei, meaning three – were popular with hunters and gamekeepers. The design allowed the shooter to hunt a wide variety of game, from deer and boar to game birds, choosing the appropriate barrel in a matter of seconds. The lot carries an estimate of £800 to £1,200.
In the fishing section, there are some sought-after antique reels by Baird & Tatlock, Hardy, and Allcocks, but collectors will have to wait until October for the chance to bid on an early and extremely rare self-published copy of William Blacker’s Art of Angling, and Complete System of Fly Making, and Dying of Colours.
The 48-page book – illustrated with plates and actual flies and fly tying specimens – will be available for inspection, and will be offered at the Selected Picture and Book Sale on Friday, October 25, where it is expected to be one of the highlights of the sale.
For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk