Racing world mourns death of ‘genius’ jockey Walter Swinburn

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  • Former leading jockey Walter Swinburn, who rode Shergar to Derby victory, died yesterday (12 December) aged 55.

    Walter was just 19 when he partnered Shergar to the record-breaking 10-length victory in the Epsom Derby in 1981.

    This was the first of Walter’s three Derby victories, after which he took the 1986 race on Shahrastani and again in 1995 aboard Lammtarra.

    The jockey and Shergar went on to claim the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in their Derby-winning year.

    Among Walter’s many other notable wins was the 1983 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the Patrick Biancone-trained filly All Along, and the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Pilsudksi in 1996.

    He won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in 1988 aboard Doyoun and went on to win the 1000 Guineas three times, with Musical Bliss in 1989, Hatoof in 1992 and Sayyedati in 1993.

    In February 1996, he had a horrific fall at Sha Tin after his ride Liffey Rider crashed through the railing at the Hong Kong racecourse, leaving him in intensive care for a week with head and chest injuries.

    Six months later, he won his first race back on Talathath at Windsor.

    Walter retired from race-riding in 2000 and went on to take over the training licence from his father-in-law, Peter Harris, in 2004.

    He enjoyed success as a trainer, with more than 260 winners, and handed in his licence at the end of October 2011, citing financial reasons. He also spent some time on the Channel 4 Racing team.

    Leading figures from the racing world are among those to pay tribute.

    “Shocked with the awful news that Walter Swinburn has passed away, another jockey has gone too soon. Immensely talented and gifted rider,” three-time champion jockey Richard Hughes tweeted last night (12 December).

    Retired Grand National-winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald added Walter was a “genius on a racehorse”.

    “He had beautiful hands and looked like he was born to ride. May he rest in peace,” he added.

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    Frankie Dettori said he was very saddened to hear the news of Walter’s passing.

    A true talent and gentleman, thoughts are with his family,” he added.

    AP McCoy described him as “brilliantly stylish and a genius in the saddle”.

    “Very sad to hear about the death of Walter Swinburn,” he said. “A jockey that God hath retained.”

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