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空白の時代

Jiromaru

横山典弘と藤沢和雄。関東を代表するジョッキーと調教師でありながら、意外なことに、この2人には蜜月の時代がありません。藤沢和雄厩舎には岡部幸雄騎手というほとんど専属のジョッキーがいましたし、岡部幸雄騎手が引退した後は、所属の若手騎手や腕の立つ外国人ジョッキーに騎乗依頼をすることが多く、横山典弘騎手に白羽の矢が立つことが少なかったのでしょう。それだけではなく、実はこの2人には、関係が断絶されていた空白の時代があるのです。

このことを語る前に、横山典弘騎手のお酒にまつわる逸話を紹介しておかなければならないでしょう。

デビューした18歳の頃の函館で、1日に3回も落馬した話です。朝5時まで飲んでいた横山典弘騎手は、最初に調教場まで乗ってきたバイクでひっくり返りました。その次は、角馬場でうるさい馬を叱ろうとしてムチを大きく振った瞬間、地面に落馬しました。最後は、まさに追い切りを行っている最中にアブミが外れてしまい、足を掛け直そうとしたが、そのまま真っ逆さまに地面へ叩きつけられてしまいました。「大丈夫か?」と救急隊員が駆け寄ると、横山典弘騎手は酒臭い息を吐きながら、そのままグーグーと眠ってしまったそうです。

このようなエピソードには事欠かず、横山典弘騎手はお酒に飲まれてしまうことで有名でした。腕は達者であっても、安心して手綱を任せることの危うい、どこか脆い面を持ち合わせていたのでした。厩舎関係者の信頼だけではなく、お酒によって横山典弘騎手は健康をも損ねてしまいました。痛風と診断されたように、お酒で足を痛めてしまったのです。そんな横山典弘騎手のことを、藤沢和雄調教師は見ていたのでしょう。ゼンノロブロイでダービーを2着に負けたレースを機に、横山典弘騎手に騎乗を依頼しなくなったのでした。

Yokoyamaそれまでは、調教にも跨ってもらっていた横山典弘騎手に対し、藤沢和雄調教師はこう言ったそうです。「明日から攻め馬に来なくていいよ」と。横山典弘騎手は何も言えませんでした。お互いにプロとして、勝負の世界では結果を出せなければ飯が食っていけません。調教師が乗れないジョッキーに騎乗を依頼するわけにはいきません。ドライではありますが、当たり前の話ですよね。こうして、およそ2年以上にわたって、横山典弘騎手が藤沢和雄厩舎の馬に跨ることはありませんでした。

横山典弘騎手はお酒をやめました。藤沢和雄調教師にもう一度認めてもらうためではなく、自分がダービーが勝ちたいから。自分自身には馬しかないと気づいた時、彼は酒ときっぱり縁を切ったのでした。「最高潮で乗れるのは、あと5年ほどかもしれない。もう10年は残されていないんです。ダービーに乗れるチャンスも、5回しかないじゃないですか。その残されたチャンスに、もし自分自身が絶好調なら、ひょっとしてハナ差で勝てるレースがあるかもしれない。それをもう落としたくないんです」と横山典弘騎手は語りました。そして昨年、残された5回のチャンスを、見事にモノにしたのでした。

藤沢和雄調教師はずっと見守っていました。タイキシャトル、スティンガー、シンボリインディのような、自身が育てた強いマイラーに、関東を代表するジョッキーを乗せて、いつの日か再び関西馬たちと互角の勝負をする日を夢見ながら。

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