Curtis tribute to Swinbank

Trainer of Collier Hill Alan Swinbank and jockey Dean McKeown

Jockey Ben Curtis has paid tribute to North Yorkshire trainer Alan Swinbank following his sudden death on Wednesday.

The 72-year-old handler had held a licence since 2001, sending out nearly 800 winners, highlighted by top Group-race performers Collier Hill and Turbo Linn.

Curtis developed a fruitful association with Swinbank, riding over 50 winners for him, and believes the Melsonby trainer's death will be deeply felt within the racing fraternity.

He said: "I rode lots of winners from him, essentially from day one.

"When I came over from Ireland when things dried up, the reason I made the move over was because of Alan.

"We had lots of good days and winning the Cumberland Plate on Kinema a few years ago was a real highlight.

"He loved winners at York and in the north of England, but he was also a hell of a man to buy a horse.

"You could follow him around at the sales and you wouldn't go far wrong, as he had great judgment and great knowledge on breeding.

"He was a grand man and will be badly missed."

Swinbank was a dual-purpose trainer who was renowned for turning his classy National Hunt horses into Pattern contenders on the Flat.

Collier Hill developed from a bumper and hurdles performer into a three-time Group One winner.

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He won the 2005 Irish St Leger before going on to claim glory in the Canadian International at Woodbine and the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin the following year.

Turbo Linn landed a Listed bumper at Aintree in 2007 before progressing to win that year's Lancashire Oaks.

Formal Decree was another notable performer, winning the 2006 Cambridgeshire before being bought by Godolphin.

Swinbank is survived by sons Julian and AJ and daughter Michelle.

Swinbank's final winner came at Hamilton last week when Joe Fanning steered Genres to victory in a one-mile-three-furlong handicap.

Niall Hannity, Racing UK presenter and jockeys' agent, rode for Swinbank during his days in the saddle and more recently worked with him in representing the likes of Fanning.

He said: "I rode for him many years ago and he was very good to me.

"He was a shrewd man and we all know how well he did with bumper horses in turning them into good Flat performers with the likes of Turbo Linn and Collier Hill.

"He could train all sorts of horses, from five-furlong sprinters to three-mile chasers, and there aren't many that can do that.

"At this time of year I would speak to him seven days a week. He will be missed as he was a popular character in this neck of the woods."

Classic-winning handler Ralph Beckett was among those to pay tribute to Swinbank on Twitter, recounting their early days in the training ranks.

He said: "RIP Alan Swinbank. Did the trainers course with him, and from then on he used to tell folk we were at school together."

Renowned jumps handler handler Jonjo O'Neill was another to offer his condolences.

He said: "Very sad to hear Alan Swinbank has died. A good friend and brilliant trainer. His family are in our thoughts."

Warren Greatrex added: "So sad to hear about the sudden death of Alan Swinbank. Such a character and a real gent."

A statement posted on Swinbank's website,, read: "It is with great regret and sadness that we inform all owners, friends, relations and other race enthusiasts that Mr Alan Swinbank has passed away suddenly at home on May 17, 2017. Funeral arrangements will be posted later."

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