Joe Kennedy | Southwell | 2003
Born in County West Meath, Ireland, in 1923, Joe celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year. He trained as a general blacksmith after leaving school, but longed to come to England to work in horseracing.
His chance came just after the war, when he was put in touch with Captain Boyd-Rochford, who in-turn passed Joe’s name on to a Mr Wootton, who had contracts with most of the trainers in Newmarket. Through Mr Wootton, Joe first worked for Mr Walter Earl at Stanley House, and Joe Lawson at Carlburg Stables amongst others.
After building up a good reputation in the town, Joe then took up employment with a prominent veterinary firm, Reynolds Leader Day & Crowhurst, specialising in surgical shoeing, for horses with deformed feet.
Within a couple of years, Joe had built up a good relationship with most of the trainers and stud farms around Newmarket, and decided to set up on his own, employing two other farriers, and training a couple of apprentices too.
Joe shod many great horses in his time, with six classic winners among them, including Happy Laughter (1,000 Guineas in 1953), Never Say Die (Derby, 1954), Ballymoss (St Ledger, 1957), and Martial (2,000 Guineas, 1960). One of Joe’s most rewarding achievements however was with a horse called Keep Silent. The owner thought that this filly was so ‘straight in front’ that she would never be able to race. Joe treated her feet with such success that she went on to record her first victory at Yarmouth in the Brooke Selling Stakes.
Always inventive Joe made his own machine, which produced shoes with pre-cut nail-holes already in them, thus saving time and reducing costs. Over a period of 40 years, it is estimated that Joe shod over 120,000 horses, including 5,000 winners, using nearly 500,000 shoes, and over 3 million nails!