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Jockey Gillies Dies Swimming on Holiday

Campbell GilliesOnly three months after a breakthrough success at the Cheltenham Festival, jockey Campbell Gillies died at the age of 21 in a swimming pool accident on holiday in Corfu. Along with fellow riders and friends Henry Brooke, Harry Haynes and Nathan Moscrop, he had arrived in Kavos, Corfu on Monday for a short holiday. He was due to turn 22 today.

Exactly what happened to Gillies is being investigated by police. However, it has been described as an awful accident by Peter Scudamore, the partner and assistant trainer to Lucinda Russell, the trainer Gillies has ridden for since 2007. He says that it looks like the group had gone for a swim on Tuesday morning. Gillies friends realised that he had been under the water for a while, but it was too late when they got him out and tried to help him. Speaking of Gillies, he added that he became one with the horse, and one of the reasons he was a truly great jockey was his love and empathy for his horses.

Russell said that this terrible news has hit everyone, as Gillies was a much loved, respected and popular member at Arlary House. It’s hard to lose part of their family. Their hearts go out to Lesley, his mother, and Rita and Finlay, his sister and brother (who is also a Glasgow Warriors hooker). They are very proud of his achievements, and it was through his talent and ability that he reached great heights at such an early age. He had a wonderful charm that, she believes, came across to everyone who met him. Her head groom, Mark Ellwood, a close friend to the jockey, was in the travelling party as well.

Gillies rode more than 50 of his 131 winners for the stable, as well as a victory on Brindisi Breeze, who died last month after jumping from a paddock and being hit by a lorry. A minute of silence was held at tracks around the UK on Tuesday, and jockeys wore black armbands. Paul Brierley, Gillies’ agent, said that the jockey was one of the brightest talents in jumps racing. He was a very close friend and will be sadly missed. A colleague until recently, Graham Lee rode two winners and was still having a hard time taking the news. He said that he can’t believe it. This is very upsetting, as Gillies was a great lad, he added. Other jockeys have paid tributes to the jockey as well.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, who’s a horse racing fan, says that this news is devastating. Gillies had achieved extraordinary success by the age of 21, highlighted by his victory at the Cheltenham Festival this year on Brindisi Breeze. This loss of outstanding talent is a big blow for racing and Scottish sport. His thoughts are with Gillies’ family and friends, he added.

An Injured Jockeys Fund spokesman said they will provide assistance to Gillies’ family and friends in Corfu. His uncle, Rory McNeill, spoke on behalf of the family, saying that they are all devastated and trying to come to terms with the news. He was dearly loved by everyone, which is shown by the tributes. They hope they can be given space and time to grieve, he added.

 

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