Gillies dies in holiday tragedy

  • Last Updated: June 26 2012, 17:03 BST

Racing has paid its respects to Cheltenham Festival-winning rider Campbell Gillies, who died on Tuesday in an accident on holiday in Kavos, Greece.

Gillies dies in holiday tragedy

Gillies, who was due to turn 22 on Wednesday, had gone away with fellow jockeys Nathan Moscrop, Henry Brooke and Harry Haynes, along with Mark Ellwood, head lad at the Kinross stable of Lucinda Russell, to whom he was attached.

Gillies was just beginning to make a name for himself and had enjoyed his best ever season with 38 winners, the highlight undoubtedly being the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze's success in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

Racegoers at Beverley and Brighton completed a minute's silence before racing, with jockeys wearing black armbands.

Paul Bittar, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said: "We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic news that Campbell Gillies lost his life in an accident while on holiday in Kavos.

"Campbell was a young, talented and popular rider. At only 21 he had established himself as one of the rising stars in jump racing and enjoyed his first Cheltenham Festival winner this year. Sadly this tragic accident means that his outstanding potential will remain unfulfilled.

"At a time like this our thoughts turn first and foremost to Campbell's friends, family and colleagues. On behalf of everyone at the BHA I offer our sincere condolences."

The Professional Jockeys Association released the following statement: "We are shocked by the incredibly sad news of the death of Campbell Gillies and the thoughts of all jockeys and everyone at the PJA are today immediately with Campbell's family and friends.

"Campbell was a very popular member of the weighing room and was immensely well liked by his colleagues.

"His riding career was beginning to flourish and he had a great future ahead of him in horse racing.

"In March this year he was able to celebrate a first winner at the Cheltenham Festival on Brindisi Breeze for Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell and there would undoubtedly have been many more days like that for him.

"It is so tragic that he has lost his life at such a young age when Campbell had so much more to look forward to.

"We are liaising closely with the Injured Jockeys Fund who are on standby to provide any support that is required."

Russell, who had struck up a good partnership with Gillies, said on her website www.lucindarussell.com: "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.

"This empathy and love of his horses was one of the reasons that he was a truly great jockey."

Peter Scudamore, former champion jockey and Russell's partner and assistant, said: "His victory at Cheltenham on Brindisi Breeze was the pinnacle of Campbell's career; the race epitomised him as a jockey; his belief and confidence and his innate timing. He became one with the horse.

"This empathy and love of his horses was one of the reasons that he was a truly great jockey."

Speaking on behalf of Gillies' mother Lesley, sister Rita, and Finlay, his uncle, Rory McNeill, said: "The whole family is devastated and trying to come to terms with our loss. Campbell was dearly loved by one and all, and this is shown by the tributes to Campbell. We hope that at this time we can be given the space and time to grieve."

Paul Brierley, Gillies' agent, said: "Campbell was one of the brightest talents in jumps racing, but to me he was also a very close friend on and off the track. He will be sadly missed. It's a real tragedy to all connected to him in racing, and I will miss him greatly."

Racing personalities were quick to pay their respects to Gillies on Twitter.

Gold Cup-winning jockey Paddy Brennan said: "The worst news you cud possibly hear. Campbell you will be sadly missed by us all. Great jockey & even better bloke £RIP."

Champion jockey Tony McCoy said: "Very sad news about Campbell Gillies a very good jockey but an even better bloke. All our thoughts are with his family RIP."

Grand National-winning jockey Barry Geraghty said: "Very sad news about Campbell Gillies, a very good rider & a lovely fella. He will be sadly missed. All our thoughts are with his family RIP."

The Foreign Office confirmed the death and are in the process of aiding Gillies' family.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Corfu on 26 June. We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time."