Ashforth’s Angles: Chepstow sparks memories of infamous Mrs Mort

Chepstow: track remembers another Dorothy Mort on Monday

PICTURE: Getty Images Chepstow sparks memories of Mrs Mort By David Ashforth 5:50PM 28 AUG 2016

IT'S so easy to get in a muddle with names and, at first sight, the 1.00 at Chepstow comes as a shock. A race being run in memory of Dorothy Mort!

If you follow cricket you may remember Dr Claude Tozer, who played for New South Wales and was on the brink of a Test career when fate or, more accurately, Mrs Mort intervened.

It was a few days before Christmas. Unwisely, as it turned out, Tozer told Mort that their affair, conducted largely on Dorothy's living room sofa, was over. Dorothy, who had an unusually large nose although that might have made no difference, took the news badly and shot Tozer dead.

She then shot herself but survived to stand trial for murder. Luckily for Dorothy, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and, eight years later, released on the grounds that she was no longer insane.

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Her husband Harold Mort, who must have been very cross at the time, took her home to the house that had been the scene of the unfortunate events. Dorothy didn’t kill anyone else and lived on until she was 81.

My suspicions were aroused by the fact that the Morts lived in Australia, the murder took place in 1920 and Dorothy died in 1966.

We need to be quite clear; the Dorothy Mort Memorial EBF Maiden Stakes, which will be won by Good Omen, refers to a quite different Dorothy Mort, who was married to David Mort for 62 years without murdering anyone.

Far from it. Dorothy, who died in 2014, was evidently widely liked and respected. She and her husband founded and ran the Port Talbot Plant company and after retiring pursued their shared love of horse racing, owning several horses.

More tributes at Epsom

At Epsom, where it's Amateur Derby Day (4.20), there are other curiosities. The 5.25 is named after Isabella Beeton, better known as Mrs Beeton, famous for her Book of Household Management (1861). I think of Mrs Beeton as a matronly, middle-aged lady. Not so! The book was published when she was 25 and she died aged 28.

Henry Dorling (see the 3.50) was Isabella's stepfather and Epsom's clerk of the course. For a while the family lived in the grandstand. It's true.

Then there was Stanley Wootton, remembered in the 4.55. Wootton, the 'Emperor of Epsom', was a successful trainer of both horses and jockeys as well as a substantial land and property owner. As I discovered ten years ago in Board of Inland Revenue files, Wootton was also an extremely successful gambler, although it is questionable how much risk his bets involved.

Wootton claimed that his training and farming businesses made heavy losses but that between 1940 and 1954 he made £375,000 from betting, most of it backed up with documentation and none of it liable for tax. He had paid none since before the War.

That amount then equates to well over £10 million today. Pity he isn't still here to ask what he fancies.

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