Grand National trainer Josh Gifford dies aged 70

Grand National-winning trainer Josh Gifford has died of a heart attack at the age of 70.

Gifford, who owned the Findon yard in West Sussex, had recently returned from hospital after a bout of septicaemia.

He will be best remembered for Aldaniti's stirring 1981 win at Aintree after jockey Bob Champion recovered from cancer to ride to victory.

Before starting his training career, Gifford was an accomplished jockey and was crowned champion on four occasions.

Josh Gifford
Josh Gifford made his debut as a jockey in 1954 as a 12-year-old, three years before this picture was taken

He had four Cheltenham Festival successes and finished second in the 1967 Grand National on Honey End behind the legendary winner Foinavon.

Gifford had his first ride as a 12-year-old and his first winner came two years later in 1956 on Trentham Boy on the Flat, while his first winner over jumps was at Wincanton in 1959.

As well as winning the National with Aldaniti, Gifford trained top-quality horses such as Door Latch, Deep Sensation, Bradbury Star and Katabatic.

He trained more than 1,500 winners in his career and in 1981 was part of the team that won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award, alongside Champion and Aldiniti.

Champion was indebted to Gifford for supporting him during his illness and for sticking by him when he returned to the saddle

"He was a great jockey, a great trainer and a great man," said Champion. "He was so loyal to his jockeys."

Former stable jockey Richard Rowe rode most of Gifford's best horses, and had visited his former boss only recently.

"It's very sad news, I only went to see him last week. It was meant to be a brief visit but it lasted three and a half hours!" said Rowe.

"I was very grateful I had the chance to see him before he passed away. His health was back and forth a bit. He'd have a blood transfusion and have a good spell but then the infection would return.

"My time there was the best for both of our careers, he was a great man to work for."