Broad Hinton based trainer Andy Turnell has died age 73.
Andy was the most stylish jump jockey of his generation and a key player from the golden era of 1970s hurdlers thanks to his association with Birds Nest.
Noted for riding daringly short in the irons and blessed with an impeccable sense of balance, Turnell went on to succeed his father Bob as a successful trainer..
Ten years ago, he suffered a severe stroke, curtailing his career as a racehorse trainer.
Andy’s father Bob Turnell was also a successful trainer. Andy had his first public ride for his father at 15 and rode a dozen winners on the flat before his first win over jumps – aged only 16 – on Jim Joel’s hurdler Mayfair Bill at Wincanton in December 1964.
Andy was particularly proud of his record at Cheltenham, one year in particular having the most wins at the racecourse for the year. When you consider he was riding during the era of the likes of John Francome and Mike Scudamore, a good friend, it was no mean feat.
He told Marlborough.News that riding in the Grand National then was as exciting and challenging as it is now: “When I first rode in the National Mike Scudamore told me it was easier than it had been as the fences were modified in the 60s to put more of a belly in them. They had all been very upright like the Chair.”
His greatest triumph as a trainer was sending out Maori Venture to land the 1987 Grand National, bringing to fruition a lifelong ambition for his 92-year-old owner Jim Joel.
The National had been Turnell’s greatest aim as a jockey and the best of his 13 attempts was when third on Charles Dickens behind Red Rum in 1974.
TV Racing and Sky Sports Racing host Luke Harvey paid tribute to a giant of the sport, who lived out his final years near Swindon after suffering a stroke in 2015.
Harvey said: “I was absolutely devastated to hear the news.
“Not only was he a loyal trainer to me, but a really good friend as well.
“I don’t think I have admired anyone more as a horseman. He trained on instinct.
“He didn’t do things in a conventional way, but his results speak for themselves, winning Grand Nationals, Champion Chases and numerous races at the Cheltenham Festival.”
Read Andy’s 2017 interview with Jan Perrins for marlboroughequestrian.news
A Service of Thanksgiving is being held for Andy on Wednesday 30 March at 2.30pm, at St Mary’s Church, Marlborough.