Walter Swinburn and Shergar after the 1981 Derby
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Jack Haynes 6:26PM 12 DEC 2016
WALTER SWINBURN, one of the finest jockeys of his generation who will forever be associated with brilliant Derby winner Shergar, has died at the age of 55.
Nicknamed the Choirboy, Swinburn memorably steered Shergar to an emphatic ten-length success in the Derby as a 19-year-old in 1981, the first of three wins in the Epsom Classic.
Swinburn also won the Epsom feature on Shahrastani in 1986 and Lammtarra nine years later.
Born in Oxford, Swinburn rode his first winner, Paddy’s Luck, on July 12, 1978 at Kempton but gained considerable exposure for his winning ride on Shergar, easing the winner down before the line.
Winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Breeders’ Cup Turf among many other top-level prizes in a highly successful riding career, Swinburn enjoyed the many highs and lows in the life as a jockey before joining the training ranks in 2004, winning four Group 3 events with Stotsfold before handing in his licence in 2011.
Swinburn almost died after being catapulted into the running rail at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, in 1996, suffering multiple injuries, including a punctured lung, and was in a coma for four days.
Within six months, Swinburn was back on the track to record Breeders’ Cup Turf success aboard the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Pilsudski in November 1996, but after suffering problems with his weight, Swinburn announced his retirement from the saddle in 2000.
Training predominantly for his father-in-law Peter Harris in Hertfordshire, Swinburn celebrated more than 250 winners in seven seasons as a trainer, including Royal Ascot success with Royal Hunt Cup scorer Julienas, before calling it a day five years ago due to “commercial reasons”.