IT’S important not to ignore the role that Nick Embiricos played when the North Yorkshire jump jockey, Bob Champion, beat cancer before winning a tearjerking Grand National in 1981 on the injury-plagued Aldaniti.
Mr Embiricos, who has died at 84, is the racehorse owner who stayed loyal to the stricken Champion and told the desperately ill rider that he could ride Aldaniti in the Aintree marathon if he made a sufficient recovery.
Not only this but the owner was then one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust in 1983, and which has raised £15m – and counting – for pioneering research as well as funding enhanced hospital care for sufferers.
“When I was stable jockey to Josh Gifford, Nick and his wife Valda always had some nice horses there and I was very fortunate to ride a lot of winners for them and then, of course, Aldaniti came along and won the National. It was always Nick’s dream to win it,” Champion said in tribute.
“They were just the most lovely owners and lovely, easy people to ride for. The horses always, always came first with them and they were fantastic people to deal with. They were a lot of fun too.
“Nick was one of the people who really wanted the charity and really wanted it to succeed. He was instrumental in getting it going. After the National a lot of people sent donations to the Royal Marsden Hospital care of myself, and Nick wanted to do more and make more of it all and it’s grown from something little to what it is today, which is quite big. He put his heart and soul into it.”