Malcolm Jefferson: Cheltenham Festival winning trainer dies aged 71

Malcolm Jefferson
Jefferson's Cheltenham Festival winners included Dato Star and Cape Tribulation

Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Malcolm Jefferson has died aged 71 after a long illness.

His daughter Ruth has taken over the training licence at the family's stables in Malton, North Yorkshire.

Jefferson was the first British trainer to win the Champion Bumper at the Festival - with Dato Star in 1995.

A family statement said: "It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Malcolm Jefferson after a brave battle with cancer."

It added: "Malcolm passed away at home peacefully in his sleep on the morning of Friday, February 2, with his wife Sue and children Clare, Rachel, Ruth and Jo at his side.

"We would like to thank everybody for the kindness and support they have given during recent months."

Malcolm Jefferson in 1999 with Tullymurry Toff, Kings Measure and Dato Star
Jefferson in 1999 with Tullymurry Toff, Kings Measure and Dato Star

Jefferson's first winner at the Festival came with Tindari in the Pertemps Hurdle Final in 1994.

Along with his Cheltenham win, Dato Star also landed the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

In 2012, Jefferson enjoyed a Cheltenham Festival double with Cape Tribulation and Attaglance, with both horses also winning at Aintree's Grand National meeting.

He has enjoyed success recently with steeplechasers Waiting Patiently and Cloudy Dream.

'The greatest man I have ever met'

Tributes were paid across racing, with trainer Brendan Powell saying: "The knowledge that man had in his head regarding horses, you just cannot replace or buy."

Former jockey George Chaloner, who rode for Jefferson, tweeted: "The greatest man I have ever met.

"Malcolm Jefferson was more than just a boss, but a true friend. I owe everything to this man as without him I wouldn't have had a successful riding career nor become the man I am today. RIP Mr Jefferson."

'One of racing's Mr Nice Guys'

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

Malcolm Jefferson was one of racing's Mr Nice Guys: quiet, thoughtful and kind. But on the racetrack - frequently as a standard bearer for jump racing's Northern circuit - he was the most formidable of opponents.

Lots of good horses passed through his hands, big names such as Dato Star, According To Pete and Waiting Patiently, who is unbeaten in his five steeplechases.

But pulling off a 'double-double' of Cape Tribulation and Attaglance winning fiercely competitive handicap hurdles at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals in 2012 rates as perhaps his greatest feat.

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