CHELTENHAM Festival-winning jockey Campbell Gillies has died following an accident on holiday in Greece.
Gillies, who was due to turn 22 today, was attached to the Lucinda Russell yard in Kinross, Scotland.
He rode the biggest winner of his fledgling career when Brindisi Breeze ran out an impressive victor of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
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Russell posted on her website: ‘‘We learnt this morning that Campbell died as the result of a swimming accident while in Kavos, Greece.
‘‘Campbell was on a short holiday with one of our head lads, Mark Ellwood, and jockeys Nathan Moscrop, Henry Brooke and Harry Haynes.
‘‘This dreadful news has hit the whole yard. He was a much loved, popular and respected member at Arlary, and it is so hard to lose part of our ‘family’.
‘‘We are immensely proud of the achievements of Campbell.
It was through his innate ability and talent that he reached great heights as a jockey at such an early age.
‘‘More than that he had a wonderful charm that I believe came across to everyone who met him, and through his media interviews.
‘‘His victory at Cheltenham on Brindisi Breeze was the pinnacle of his career; the race epitomised him as a jockey; his belief and confidence and his innate timing. He became one with the horse.’’ Gillies sprang to prominence due to his association with the classy Lie Forrit.
He rode his first winner in the 2007-08 season and had 131 winners under his belt.
Last year was his best campaign to date with 38 winners and he was in action as recently as Sunday at Hexham.
The Northern Echo’s racing writer, former jockey and Racing UK presenter Niall Hannity tweeted: ‘‘Devastating news coming through that Campbell Gillies has lost his life in a accident whilst on holiday, thoughts with his family. RIP’’.
• C4 racing presenter Derek Thompson is standing down from his racing commitments as he prepares to undergo treatment for cancer at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge today.
The one-time Northern Echo racing tipster said: “It’s a tumour near the bowel and I’m going in at 11am tomorrow and I’ll be operated on in the afternoon.
“I’ll be in hospital for a week and they’ve said four to eight weeks off.”
The popular presenter and commentator expressed his thanks to TV producers and racecourse owners for their understanding.
“It’s going to be very frustrating because after Royal Ascot there are so many top meetings coming up around the country that I would normally enjoy but I will continue watching them in hospital,” said Thompson.