I just found out yesterday that steeplechase jockey Crompton “Tommy” Smith (b. 1937) passed away last week.

As a young man, he met the Thoroughbred Jay Trump (foaled in 1957). The horse had had a dismal flat-racing career but Tommy discoverd that he loved to jump.

The horse, the jockey, and the son of Jay Trump’s owner began training for steeplechase races. They won their first race in 1962. In 1963, they broke the course record at the famous Maryland Hunt Cup. The next year, they won Maryland’s “Triple Crown” of timber races.

Tommy and Jay Trump’s greatest victory came in 1965, when — despite 100-to-6 odds — Jay Trump became the first American-bred, -owned, and -ridden horse to win England’s Grand National.

In April 1965, Sports Illustrated published a fascinating article on the pair that won that year’s Grand National.

You can watch an original broadcast of the race here. (By the end of the video I was cheering for Jay Trump and Tommy, even though I knew they would win … but remember: neither the sport nor this film of it were for meant for the faint-of-heart.)

After winning the Maryland Hunt Cup for the third time, in 1966, Jay Trump was retired and lived out his remaining years at one of Mrs. Stephenson’s farms. He passed away in 1988, at the ripe old age of thirty-one, and is buried at the finish line of the Kentucky Horse Park’s steeplechase course.