Head-Maarek leads tributes to Swinburn

Leading French trainer Criquette Head-Maarek described three-time Derby winner Walter Swinburn as "one of the greatest ever jockeys" following his death at the age of 55.

Walter Swinburn: Died on Monday, aged 55

Head-Maarek and Swinburn developed a fruitful association in the 1990s, most notably with Hatoof, on whom the rider won the 1000 Guineas and the Champion Stakes at Newmarket.

The Chantilly handler said: "When I found out about the news of Walter dying, I was very, very sad.

"We had some glorious times together and won a lot of big races with horses like Hatoof.

"He was such a talented rider. He had really soft hands and had fantastic judgement during races.

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"He was also a great horseman and seemed to know exactly what he was doing all the time.

"In my opinion, I think he was one of the greatest ever jockeys."

Swinburn was one of the most renowned riders of his generation and will forever be inextricably linked with the brilliant Shergar.

Nicknamed the 'Choirboy', he partnered the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt to glory in the 1981 Derby at the age of 19, one of three winners for Swinburn in the Epsom Classic alongside Shahrastani (1986) and Lammtarra (1995).

Many other big-race successes around the world adorned his CV before his retirement from the saddle in 2000.

Head-Maarek added: "Walter was a great boy and it is such a young age that he has died.

"When you like someone, you never want them to leave."

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