Merce­nary hi­jacks the Gif­ford name

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Racing -

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.

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