Mercenary hijacks the Gifford name
Jockeys from a generation above mine are disconcerted that a British mercenary who fought for the Kurds against Islamic State has written a book about his experiences under the nom de plume Macer Gifford. Gifford was a hugely popular jump jockey who won the 1968 Whitbread Gold Cup on Larbawn and was the younger brother of Josh Gifford. Macer died, aged 40, in 1985 from motor neurone disease and a race, called the Macer Gifford Memorial Chase, is still run at Huntingdon, his local track.
The recently published Fighting Evil: The Ordinary Man Who Went to War Against Isis is an account of “Macer Gifford” fighting for the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria. The author admits having taken the identity of the former jockey.
Philip Blacker, the sculptor who was a weighing-room colleague of Gifford, is unhappy about it. “The point is, he has lifted a unique name from wherever and used it,” he said. “To make it worse, Macer died tragically young and his name is rather precious to some – there cannot have been another Macer Gifford. He was such a good bloke and very good company.”
The only consolation, I suppose, is that the current Macer was, at least, on the “right” side.