William Fisher Hunter Carson, OBE was born in Stirling, Scotland on 16th November 1942 and is a retired UK horse racing jockey. Better known as Willie Carson, he was apprenticed to Captain Gerald Armstrong at his stables at Tupgill, North Yorkshire and his first win in Britain was on a horse called Pinker’s Pond in a seven furlong apprentice handicap race at Catterick Bridge Racecourse on 19th July 1962. His first ever race was in May 1959 on Marija at Redcar where he came 5th.
He was British Champion Jockey five times (1972, 1973, 1978, 1980 and 1983), won 17 British Classic races and had more than 100 winners in a season, 23 times, giving him a total of 3,828 wins, making him the fourth most successful jockey in Great Britain after Gordon Richards, Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery.
Willie Carson’s best season as a jockey was in 1990 when he rode 187 winners, including riding six winners on the card at Newcastle Racecourse in June, one of only four jockeys to achieve this during the 20th century. Even though, he only came second to Pat Eddery in the 1990 jockey’s championship who successfully rode 209 winners.
Willie had a long association with trainer Major Dick Hern for whom he rode his first three Derby winners. At five feet tall and riding at an easily maintained weight of seven stone ten pounds (49 kg), he was very much in demand as a jockey, right up to his retirement in 1996 when he was 54 years of age.
In 1980 he took over the Minster House Stud at Ampney Crucis near Cirencester in Gloucestershire and he and his wife Elaine have developed it into a modern day, state of the art stud complex which has its own webpage. He is almost certainly the only jockey in the 20th century to have ridden a horse that he bred, Minster Son, to triumph in one of the Classic races, the Saint Leger Stakes 1988. He and his now ex wife Carol have three sons Anthony, Neil, and Ross.
From 1982 to 1983 Willie Carson accompanied Bill Beaumont as one of the team captains for the very successful, television quiz show, ‘A Question of Sport’ and now keeps busy at the racecourse where he co-presents BBC horse racing coverage with Clare Balding and is also European racing manager for the Thoroughbred Corporation. Also in 1983, Willie was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to UK horse racing.
From 2001 until August 2007 he was chairman of Swindon Town Football Club when, following a takeover of the club by Best Holdings SGPS S.A, he was replaced by Jim Little. A recent quote from Willie: "Successes come along gradually; we’ve got there and we’ve built on things and I suppose you would have to say – I’ve never said this before – I have made a success."
17 Classic in UK
Total winners in UK – 3828
Fourth most successful jockey in Great Britain
Trainers Willie rode for:
1959 Gerald Armstrong
1963 Sam Armstrong
1966 Bernard van Custem
1976 Clive Brittain
1977 Dick Hern