Dettori: Swinburn was a natural talent and a joy to watch

All Along and Walter Swinburn after their Arc victory in 1983

PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) 'Swinburn was a natural talent and a joy to watch'
By James Burn 6:00PM 13 DEC 2016

FRANKIE DETTORI, the man who succeeded Walter Swinburn as Flat racing's most stylish operator, on Tuesday paid a touching tribute to his former colleague, who died at the age of 55 on Monday morning.

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Swinburn, who suffered from epilepsy, was one of the finest riders of his generation and his CV is crammed with victories in many of the sport's greatest races.

He won eight British Classics and memorably steered Shergar to his brilliant win in the 1981 Derby when the jockey was just 19.

By the time Dettori entered the weighing room in the late 1980s, Swinburn was established as one of its senior members and he was fondly recalled on Tuesday by his old sparring partner.

Dettori said: "Walter was in my corner. I got changed next to him almost every day and as a young lad growing up he was a jockey I looked up to because he was an unbelievable rider. He was a joy to watch, be around and learn from. It was a sad day when I heard the news. He was only 55 and I'm still in a bit of shock as it's so young."

Swinburn-360

Walter Swinburn: died at the age of 55 on Monday morning

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Outlining the part Swinburn played in helping shape his successful career, the 45-year-old added: "Absolutely I took things from him, of course. And I was blessed he was in my corner so I watched him like a hawk every day, trying to pick up his best attributes. He definitely played a big part in my career.

"He was a very natural talent and got inside horses's mind to get them to do what he wanted them to do; relax, run for him. He was a great horseman. For me as a young, up-and-coming jockey he was someone I was very lucky to have on my side, so I could try to pick up as much as I could from this great talent.

"When you're with someone – and I was very lucky I had Walter, Ray Cochrane and Pat Eddery to look up to – for six to eight hours a day you pick up things even if you don't actually talk to them or ask; you're like a sponge and try to be like them.

"When I rode the seven winners at Ascot he was with me all day, him and Pat, and he was the one pushing me to win the seventh, saying, 'You can win this'. He was getting me revved up.

"I spent a lot of time with him and shared many journeys with him and he was always fun to be around. We had some great times, on and off the track."

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