Over the stable door: Farewell to Simon who lived for cars and horses
At 61-years-old, Simon had still been riding out his pointers with trainer Chris Dawson until earlier this year, despite deteriorating health.
He fell ill in October. A mole found on his back turned out to be cancerous. In typical Simon style; never one to take life too seriously, he chose to carry on enjoying life. Some say he lived in denial of his condition but I prefer to think his subconscious chose positivity over submission.
His brother Matthew took him to Cheltenham Festival which he loved despite barely being able to walk. He even attended the Hurworth point in March, keen to see his pointers run.
Simon hailed from farming stock. His father John Robinson was involved with the Zetland and South Durham hunts and the family farmed at Burns Farm in Dacre after moving there in 1967. The eldest of three brothers it was anticipated that Simon would take over the farm but his mother noticed a strong artistic flair in her eldest and packed him off to college in Harrogate.
Simon loved classic cars and on leaving college bought his first MGA, took it to bits, rebuilt it and sold it. Soon there were 50 cars sat in his father’s farm yard. John decided enough was enough, cars and livestock didn’t mix so Simon was found new premises and his classic car business began.
As a young man Simon went on a buying trip to London with a friend one day. One of the MGA’s he went to test drive belonged to a retired MP - John Profumo. Simon was taken for a test drive around the streets of London in John’s car by a lady he described as extremely attractive; her name was Christine Keeler. Simon had an eye for the ladies and, not realising the media outcry surrounding this particular lady’s involvement with Mr Profumo, sensed Christine was making a play for him.
When he purchased the car she gave him a beautiful bracelet she’d been wearing. Simon accepted the gift, thinking to himself he had obviously left a good impression and hoping he might see her again. The Profumo affair was still fresh in people’s memories, all except Simon’s. The classic car enthusiast’s aspirations of furthering relations were soon dashed once he was enlightened as to Miss Keeler’s true occupation. The bracelet was gifted to his mother and almost 40 years later Matthew has inherited it along with the story.
Simon was also a regular rider in the county point to points for decades.
In 2013 the Dawson family offered to train his string and help him maintain fitness, always a battle once riders reach a certain age. The Dawson’s intervention was the best thing that could’ve happened at what was a difficult time in his life. A year ago they gave us all a memorable moment.
An era had passed since he had last ridden a winner and at the Bilsdale meeting in May Simon steered his maiden Kilmacallogue Bay to victory. The celebrations lasted a week. Simon would later refer to it as the best day of his riding career.
The funeral is Wednesday, April 29 at Wear Valley Crematorium, Counden, Bishop Auckland at 2pm.