“Glanville Gardiner was from the pages of Ernest Hemingway”
You never wish death on anyone, least of all your good friends. But when the reaper came at last to claim my old pal, Glanville Gardiner, it was a relief to know he’d arrived. His was a victory for those who won’t lie down, for the man who suffers in silence, and who’s going to make a fist of his life, whatever the odds.
When his cancer was first diagnosed, it was a matter of months rather than years. For him though, it was a matter of how many years he could fit into those months, how many fishing trips he could take, how many good bets he could land, and how many good horses he could breed. He reminded us of the condemned man just before dawn, of the blindness of hope and the madness of courage.
Glanville Gardiner was from the pages of Ernest Hemingway. For him, fishing was more in the nature of a military expedition than a sporting venture, though it has to be said, sport and good sportsmanship, was at the heart of it. When it came to organisation though, it was the “nth” degree. Yes, he missed a few, at times he’d tell you he’d missed a lot, but detail is for clerks. Glanville had finer gifts. The one thing we do know though, is now it’s all over, the kingfish of the Indian Ocean are at rest tonight.
It was the same with his horsebreeding. He did it like he meant it, like the bombproof tradesman working on a job, and let’s have no fuss. When the market shunned his thoroughbred masterpiece, he took it as a sign of predestination, “trusting himself when all men doubted”. When Coastal Waltz was crowned Horse Of The Year, a member of the Catholic clergy was so overcome, he briefly forgot the papal injunction against the worship of graven images; he asked for, and received, a few ginger hairs from the good mare’s tail.
Ownership of a Horse Of The Year has other implications, especially for a man who’d held that in most walks of life, there was too much “blood” and not enough mongrel. Glanville Gardiner was the triumph of character over style, of earthiness over pretence, whose wealth lay in sincerity rather than money, and in the celebration of family over possessions. Now a racehorse had thrust him into a social set he’d never belonged to, and you suspect, he’d never wanted to belong to. This man didn’t conform. He couldn’t: he wasn’t like anyone else. Like Kipling said, when he made his money, he kept his virtue, and never lost “the common touch”.
When his second masterpiece, No Worries, blasted home in the Million Mile a fortnight ago, it was the final signal that it was “good to go”. And so he has. And the world’s both the richer and the poorer for it. Richer for the life he celebrated, and poorer for the fact that there was only one mould. There wo’t be any more like him.