Death of John Hills, aged 53

  • Last Updated: June 1 2014, 13:43 BST

One of racing's most famous families is in mourning after the loss of Lambourn trainer John Hills.

John Hills, a well-liked member of a fine racing family, seen at Newbury in April.
John Hills, a well-liked member of a fine racing family, seen at Newbury in April.

Hills, 53, was one of five sons of legendary trainer Barry Hills and the brother of top jockeys Richard and Michael.

He rode 21 winners himself, including the Moet & Chandon Amateur Riders' Derby at Epsom, and learned his trade as a trainer working for Edward O'Grady, Harry Thomson-Jones, John Gosden and then for his father.

Hills took out a licence in 1987 and under his own steam the best horses he trained were classy middle-distance performer Broadway Flyer and Wind In Her Hair, who won the Group One Aral Pokal in Germany and was also the dam of Japanese sensation Deep Impact.

He also handled smart miler Docksider, who landed the 1999 Hong Kong Mile. He moved to Kingwood Stud in 2013 and from there trained a number of horses owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Another favourite was dual Group Two winner Crimson Tide, who ran in the colours of music mogul Chris Wright.

Diagnosed with a serious illness earlier this year, he continued to remain as active as possible and was still posting updates on his team on his website last week.

He married Fiona in 1987 and was a father of four daughters.

Charlie Hills, his brother and now a top trainer, said: "I couldn't have wished for a better older brother and I'll miss him immensely.

"He was always so much fun to be around, extremely clever and witty.

"He had time for everyone and saw the best in everyone. He was a very talented trainer and we were all so proud of his achievements.

"Jessica, Olivia, Martha and Issie were a huge credit to him and Fiona and I can't begin to explain how much we will miss him as a family."

Several of Hills' fellow trainers expressed their sadness via Twitter and Kim Bailey said: "Dreadful news on the death of John Hills. Far too young. All out thoughts go out to the Hills family."

Ed Vaughan said: "Sad to learn of the passing of John Hills,a gentleman and always great fun to be around. Thoughts and condolences go out to his family."

Senior jockey Steve Drowne said: "Very sad news regarding John Hills the end came so quick. Rest in peace."

Shelley Birkett, the apprentice who rode four winners for him during 2013, said: "So sad to hear of the passing of John Hills, great man to ride for who helped me out a lot. Thoughts are with the Hills family."