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Old Canny Street Kid

Harry Wragg

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I wonder if anyone has any info on Harry Wragg, the famous Sheffield-born jockey of many years ago. I believe he was one of three brothers who all went into horse racing.

I was prompted to raise the subject (and certainly Harry Wragg merits a place on the Sheffield Celebrities list) after reading today in The Star for March 12 1953 a note that Arthur Wragg, the youngest of the Wragg brothers, had died aged 41.

If I am not mistaken, Harry was known as "the Head Waiter" during his riding career.

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I wonder if anyone has any info on Harry Wragg, the famous Sheffield-born jockey of many years ago. I believe he was one of three brothers who all went into horse racing.

I was prompted to raise the subject (and certainly Harry Wragg merits a place on the Sheffield Celebrities list) after reading today in The Star for March 12 1953 a note that Arthur Wragg, the youngest of the Wragg brothers, had died aged 41.

If I am not mistaken, Harry was known as "the Head Waiter" during his riding career.

Just to add some info on Harry Wragg, found in my searches earlier today.

Harry was born in 1902 in Sheffield and died in 1985.

He became a jockey in 1920, was Champion Jockey in 1941, and retired in 1947. In his heyday he rode 13 winners of British Classic races --1,00 gns (3 times), 2,000 gns (once), the Derby (3 times), the Oaks (4 times), and the St Leger (twice).

After retiring he became a very successful trainer, and saddled five Classic winners --two in the 1,000 gns, one in each of the 2,000 gns, the Derby and the St Leger. His last Classic triumphs came in 1969.

In 1984 a biography of Harry Wragg, titled The Head Waiter, and written by Michael Seth-Smith, was published. If anyone can locate a copy of this, it may well give some details of Harry's Sheffield background. I have a feeling that he came from the Walkley area.

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If you post a message on the Sheffield Indexers site I expect Angela will be able to give you some more information as she is related to Harry Wragg :) (as far as I know she doesn't come onto this site)

hugh

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If my memory serves me I think Harry was born on Bole Hill Lane Crookes but as HughW states the family did have strong Walkley/Crookes connections. Sheffield has never really had close links with the turf. Off the top of my head the only current trainer/jockey I can think of at the moment that is from Sheffield is the Newmarket trainer Mark Tompkins.

Anyway he is some additional information from Wikipedia and the Racing Post on Harry as well as his obituary. His son Geoff took over from him in 1983 and has just retired from training in November 2008. He was in my opinion one of the best trainers of a racehorse in the post war era.

"Wragg, Harry (1902 - 1985)

Trainer (T), Jockey (J)

Also Known As: The Head Waiter

Trained: Abington Place, Newmarket

Harry Wragg had a career as a jockey for 27 years, during which time he won 13 Classics. He could time his challenge to perfection, earning him the nickname of 'The Head Waiter'. He was champion in 1941.

Not only a great jockey, Harry Wragg became a great trainer as well, and an innovator of running horses abroad and of timing gallops.

Harry Wragg was apprenticed to Robert Weston Colling at Bedford Lodge, Newmarket. He received mounts from many important owners, including King George V, and was retained by Mr Solomon Barnato Joel in 1926. He then became first jockey for Captain Oswald Bell at Lambourn, combining this with a retainer from the 5th Earl of Rosebery and other patrons of John Layton Jarvis's stable. He later rode for Frederick Darling when Gordon Richards broke his leg in 1941. In 1942 Wragg became first jockey to the 17th Earl of Derby, for whom he won six Classics in four seasons.

Wragg became a trainer in 1947, winning for the likes of HH Aga Khan III and Mr R More O'Ferrall.

Important successes:

2000 Guineas Garden Path 1944 (J)

Darius 1954 (T)

1000 Guineas

Campanula 1934 (J)

Herringbone 1943 (J)

Sun Stream 1945 (J)

Abermaid 1962 (T)

Full Dress II 1969 (T)

Derby

Felstead 1928 (J)

Blenheim 1930 (J)

Watling Street 1942 (J)

Psidium 1961 (T)

Oaks

Rockfel 1938 (J)

Commotion 1941 (J)

Sun Stream 1945 (J)

Steady Aim 1946 (J)

St Leger

Sandwich 1931 (J)

Herringbone 1943 (J)

Intermezzo 1969 (T)

Other major race(s)

featuring horses in this database)

Coronation Cup King Salmon 1934 (J)

Eclipse Stakes, Sandown Park King Salmon 1934 (J

Harry Wragg (1902 – 1985) was a British jockey and trainer.

Wragg became a jockey in 1920. The Champion Jockey in 1941, he rode 13 winners of British Classic Races, as follows:

1000 Guineas - Campanula (1934), Herringbone (1943), Sun Stream (1945)

2000 Guineas - Garden Path (1944)

Derby - Felstead (1928), Blenheim (1930), Watling Street (1942)

Oaks - Rockfel (1938), Commotion (1941), Sun Stream (1945), Steady Aim (1946)

St Leger - Sandwich (1931), Herringbone (1943)

His nickname was "The Head Waiter", a punning reference to his being the best among his contemporaries at waiting until the very last moment to produce his challenge, overtaking the field in the very last strides to the line.

On his retirement as a jockey in 1947, Wragg became a successful trainer, saddling 5 Classic Race winners as follows:

1000 Guineas - Abermaid (1962), Full Dress II (1969)

2000 Guineas - Darius (1954)

Derby - Psidium (1961)

St Leger - Intermezzo (1969)

MR HARRY WRAGG Notable jockey and trainer

OBITUARY Harry Wragg, the former champion jockey and trainer, died on October 19 at the age of 83. Known affectionately as "the Head Waiter" for tactical skills which enabled him repeatedly to produce his mount for a victory at the- last minute, Wragg rode from the end of the First World War until 1946, winning 13 English classics, and turned trainer in 1947 to have an outstandingly successful career also. When he retired as a trainer in 1983 he had won six English classics, only the Oaks eluding him. Wragg served his apprentice- ship with Robert Colling at Newmarket and rode his first winner in 1919. Two years later he won the Ormonde Plate for King George V on W'ill Somers and thereafter rode regularly as a royal jockey. In an era dominated by Sir Gordon Richards, Wragg won the jockeys' championship only once, but he was rated one of the finest brains in racing and his tally of classic wins included three Derbys. The waiting tactics which got him his nickname were first displayed in the 1928 Derby which he won on Felstead and he repeated the feat in 1930 on Blenheim. Though he was widely criticized for leaving his challenge too late, the following year, when he finished only third on Sandwich, 1931 turned out to be his best season and his 110 winners included the St Leger on the same horse. Other memorable victories were the 1938 Oaks on, Rockfel and the Oaks on Commotion in 1941. the season in which he was champion jockey. In 1942 Wragg became first jockey to Lord Derby, winning that year's Derby for him on Watling Street and riding to victory in another five classics over the next few seasons. When Wragg turned trainer in 1947 he quickly made an impact. In his 36-year career he trained six English classic winners, perhaps the highlight being Psidium who carried off the 1961 Derby at odds of 66-1. Among his seven Irish classic winners were three Derbys. Wragg retired as a trainer in 1983 after enjoying his best ever season, winning £250,000 prize money for his owners.

In Cockney rhyming slang Harry Wragg means "***" (cigarette), but this has fallen into disuse since Mr Wragg's retirement from the public eye and his death. The Kinks sang a song entitled Harry Rag.

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Harry was the son of Arthur Wragg and Nellie Hunter. His father Arthur won many cups for athletics and boxing in his younger days.
The old Bell is where the racing career of Harry began. Harry's dad went in to the pub one night, and struck up a conversation with a man who had come from Newmarket stables to collect a Sheffield youngster who had signed on to become a stable lad...but the youngster had had a change of heart. Harry's dad offered his son as a substitute (it was a time of high unemployment) and the boy went on to earn fame and fortune, nicknamed "The Head Waiter" because he timed his push for the winning post with such perfection.

Arthur Wragg and my grandfather Frank Wragg were brothers.

Angela

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