The family of Geoff Campbell, a victim of last year’s World Trade Centre disaster, have bought a two-year-old racehorse who runs in the colours of the Geoff Campbell Racing Club set up in his memory
The family of one victim of September 11 will be spending the anniversary mourning in private, but they have chosen a uniquely public way to remember his life – with a racehorse.
GeoffStar, named after Geoff Campbell who died aged 31 in the World Trade Centre disaster, has so far had one run at Epsom.
The two -year -old bay colt is owned by the Geoff Campbell Racing Club set up by Matt and Rob Campbell in memory of their brother.
Geoff, a long-time racing fan was attending a conference in the offices of Reuters on the 106th floor of the North Tower when it was struck a year ago.
Named as among the missing after the tragedy, Geoff was formally identified as one of those who died in June of this year.
Born in Essex, he had worked in New York for four years and had recently got engaged to a Bostonian Caroline Burbank.
The couple had planned to return to the UK to live.
Matt Campbell said: “All three of us had been discussing buying a racehorse for two or three years, but we were waiting until Geoff came back from the United States.”
The racing club now has around 80 members, including family and friends from recent years, as well as primary school, secondary school and university days.
Even the brothers’ headmaster from Blisworth Primary School in Northamptonshire has signed up. The members have raised more than £21,000 for the project.
While the Campbell family plans to avoid the public ceremonies both in New York and at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the anniversary, Matt says seeing GeoffStar, named by his mother Maureen, run at Epsom was a wonderfully fitting tribute to his brother.
He told Horse & Hound Online: “The atmosphere was great and positive – one of our friends said he felt like Geoff was there – it was like one of the social gatherings he would have been part of and made a huge success of.
“There were of course some quiet, reflective exchanges as well. It was a fitting memorial and a fitting testament to my brother whose memory will be kept very much alive.”
The Racing Club has a charitable purpose. Bookmakers William Hill have offered to put £100 on the horse each time he runs and that all winnings will be donated to charity.
The two charities chosen by the Campbell family are the Injured Jockeys Fund and New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children Benefit Fund. The company has also pledged to donate £100 to a Trade Centre charity each time the horse loses.
On his first outing, at Epsom in the six-furlong Stanley Wootton Maiden Auction Stakes, with jockey Paul Doe on board, Geoffstar got spooked by the road crossing less than four furlongs out and showing his inexperience, drifted home at the back of the field.
Matt Campbell said supporters were still not downhearted.”OK, so it wasn’t the greatest performance in equine history, but it was fantastic to see so many people at the races and knowing that those who couldn’t make it were cheering him on from around the world.
“It was truly an occasion Geoff would have loved to been part of and let’shope Geoffstar wins a big price one day!”
For information on the Geoff Campbell Racing Club contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.geoffcampbell.co.uk
Earlier this year, the Campbell brothers went to the Doncaster Breeze-up sales to buy a horse at auction. Accompanied by trainer Terry Mills, they bid 6,500 guineas for Lot 16, a two-year-old bay colt by Groom Dancer.
GeoffStar, as he was named by Geoff’s mother Maureen, settled quickly into Terry Mills’ Loretta Lodge Stables at Epsom.
He runs in dark blue with white spots, the colour of Geoff1s lucky interview tie. His next outing will be over a mile in mid-September.