Grand National-winning trainer Denys Smith dies

Denys Smith: was champion jumps trainer in the 1967-68 season

Grand National-winning trainer Denys Smith dies By Peter Scargill 4:07PM 14 NOV 2016

DENYS SMITH, trainer of the 1968 Grand National winner Red Alligator, died on Sunday at the age of 92.

From his base in Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, Smith sent out over 1,600 winners which included Group 1 wins on the Flat with Tudenham and Mandrake Major as well as a string of high-profile jumps victories.

Derek Thompson, who worked as assistant trainer to Smith, said on Monday: "Denys Smith was one of the finest trainers of his generation and I was honoured to have been his assistant trainer. I learned so much from him, as did so many others."

Smith began life as a taxi driver before taking out a licence to train. During his 45-year career he succeeded under both codes and was champion jumps trainer in the 1967-68 season, when Red Alligator provided him with nearly half his title-winning haul.

Approachable and well-respected as well as successful, Smith was honoured at Sedgefield racecourse in January with a special lunch to mark his yet-to-be-bettered total of 145 wins at the track.

'Proper horseman'

His friend Harvey Smith, the husband of trainer Sue Smith, took part in the celebrations at Sedgefield and said: "He was a great friend of mine and I used to call him my dad. He was a lovely old boy and he used to go to Catterick for every meeting and he was there not that long ago.

"He's been a very good man for racing. Everybody loved him and he was down to earth and a tough chap. He was a proper horseman and he came up through the ranks. He was a top man."

Smith's willingness to give people a chance was fondly recalled by trainer Chris Grant, who rode as stable jockey to Smith for a number of years.

He said: "He was a top, top man and he's the reason I'm doing what I'm doing now. I worked for him for a lot of years and he got me going and we had a lot of success together.

"He was a fair man and gave everybody a chance. When you look at his record it's just phenomenal and it's a sad loss for racing."

Smith is survived by his son Richard and daughter Susan, grandchildren Melanie, Caroline, Royce and Richard and three great-grandchildren.

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