Walter Swinburn: Three-time Derby winner and Shergar jockey dies aged 55

Shergar
Swinburn rode Shergar to a record 10-lengths victory in the 1981 Epsom Derby

Former jockey Walter Swinburn, three-time Derby winner and the rider of Shergar, has died aged 55.

Swinburn, who friends say died peacefully at home, retired from riding in 2000 before becoming a trainer.

He was just 19 when he won the Derby on Shergar in 1981.

Swinburn also won the Derby on Shahrastani in 1986 and Lammtarra in 1995. Other big-race successes included the Oaks, 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

He took over a training licence from his father-in-law, Peter Harris, in 2004 and went on to send out over 260 winners from his yard in Tring, Hertfordshire, before quitting in 2011.

He claimed one of the biggest victories of his training career earlier in 2011 when Julienas won the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot.

Racing greats pay tribute

Some of the sport's biggest names have been paying tribute to Swinburn.

Twenty-time champion jump jockey AP McCoy called him a "genius in the saddle", while fellow rider Frankie Dettori, a two-time Derby winner, said: "Very saddened to hear the shocking news of Walter Swinburn passing away. A true talent and gentleman, thoughts are with his family."

Senior jockey Steve Drownetweeted: "Shocking and sobering news of Walter Swinburn the owner of talent that most jockeys can only dream of #ripwally."

Top trainer David Pipe also took to social media to say: "Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Walter Swinburn. RIP."

Trainer James Fanshawe, who worked with Swinburn at Sir Michael Stoute's yard, said Swinburn was "a brilliant jockey".

"He had the most sympathetic pair of hands as a rider. He was a real horseman and was good on the most difficult of horses," he added.

Trainer Richard Hannon said Swinburn was "one of the best we have seen", while ex-jockey Michael Hills said he was "devastated" to hear of the death of a "great friend" who was a "genius in the saddle".

20-time champion jump jockey AP McCoy has paid tribute
20-time champion jump jockey AP McCoy has paid tribute

Analysis

BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

Walter Swinburn was one of the most supremely gifted and successful jockeys in flat racing during the 1980s and 1990s, winning a string of major prizes in Britain and across the world before retiring in 2000.

It was the major events that were his speciality and his confidence and nerves of steel in the saddle suited those occasions perfectly.

Aged just 19 and looking so youthful he was nicknamed 'the Choirboy', Swinburn steered Shergar to a Derby win in 1981 that was so easy that Peter Bromley, commentating on BBC radio, famously declared "you need a telescope to see the rest".

Though the stats say he won three Epsom Derbys, eight British Classics in all and much else besides, it'll be for Shergar that he'll be ever remembered - he was a highly significant part of one of racing's - and sport's - great stories.

Top Stories