A dog is a man’s best friend.

And a Guide Dog to a blind man is someone extra special.

Such is the appreciation former York hotelier Jeremy Cassel wants to show for Grady, his faithful companion of eight years, a statue of him will be unveiled at York Racecourse tomorrow (Wed), the opening day of the Three-Day Dante Festival.

Jeremy and wife Vivien moved up to York in 1988 to open The Grange Hotel in Bootham.


“It was a sort of dosshouse the, a home for homeless families. It took two years to convert,” Jeremy recalled.

The couple ran the venture for more than 30 years, until selling it three years ago.

The hotel has since been redesigned, refurbished and is now known as the No 1 Guesthouse.

Jeremy told the Press: “I have been gradually going blind since my 20s. I’m 73 now, I’m pretty hopeless now.”

The former hotelier, who still meets up with other hoteliers as chairman of the Yorkshire Fine Hotels Association, said he needed a guide dog.

He contacted the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and they supplied him with Grady, an Alsation/ Golden Retriever cross.

Jeremy said: “He was a very special dog. I used to take him to York races. We made friends with so many people.”

Sadly, last summer Grady developed cancer and died a few months later.

York Press: Jeremy Cassel and Grady in happier times

Jeremy wanted to remember him by having a yellow Guide Dog figure with bowl, so dogs could have a drink. But the Guide Dogs Association said sharing water presented a health risk to pets.

This led Jeremy to come up with the idea of a statue, and he found Hampshire-based sculptor Mark Coreth, who agreed to make the statue for free.

Mark is famous for his statue of legendary racehorse Frankel, which has a statue at the Knavesmire by the Sir Henry Cecil Gates, at the northern end of the course.

Tomorrow (Wed) afternoon at 2.30pm, after the first race, a bronze marquette of Grady will be unveiled by Jeremy, along with officials from the Guide Dogs Association, both in tribute and significantly as a way of continuing to raise funds for the charity.

Grady will look towards the Winner’s Enclosure from the shadow of the Melrose Stand.

Jeremy, who now lives at Westow, between York and Malton, recalled: “Almost his last day out was to York Racecourse.”

Racegoers will have the opportunity to consider donating to the charity.

Jeremy said: “I hope he can become an icon for Guide Dogs.”

People can also rub Grady’s nose for luck!

Jeremy added: “It’s my kissing the Blarney stone move.”

Racecourse Spokesman James Brennan told the Press: ““Grady was a regular visitor to the Knavesmire helping Jeremy enjoy his day, so it is lovely to be able to remember him in this way and perhaps more importantly play a part in fundraising for this worthy charity.”