Obituary: James Gale, racing executive

James Gale, who has died at 73, was a driving force within the horse racing community and the former director of the Northern Racing College at Rossington Hall, near Doncaster, in whose creation he was instrumental.

James Gale OBE

The institution, originally known as the South Yorkshire Apprentice Racing Training School, was set up in 1984 to provide employment opportunities for youngsters in South Yorkshire, at a time when they were few and far between. It has since trained generations of young people who aspired to work in the racing industry.

Awarded an OBE in 2011, Mr Gale also helped to establish the Scottish Racing Academy, the only racing school north of the border, and was recognised for helping to improve opportunities and self esteem among staff.

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The TV commentator Brough Scott, who worked with him on education and training projects, said he had been “a real pioneer” and “a great believer in the principle that there should be a Northern centre as well as the Newmarket base”.

Mr Scott added: “Jim made sure that youngsters in the North were as well catered for as those in the South.”

Born in Seaham Harbour in County Durham, Jim Gale was the son of a pitman, who came to Sheffield as a student to study town and country planning at the university and stayed in South Yorkshire.

He had been a planning officer at the old South Yorkshire County Council, when he was asked to look into the notion of establishing a racing school.

“I’ve got no family connection with the turf. I came out of a mining community where education was everything,” he recalled later in The Yorkshire Post. “That has stayed with me, the idea of education as the stepping stone to where you will.”

He went on to secure council grants for the college, and its amenities eventually included a jumping course, racehorse simulators and an indoor riding school.

Having established the Doncaster school, he advised colleagues in Italy on the creation of a racing school in San Rossore, and also joined forces with Irish, French and Italian organisations in 1999 to establish the European Association of Racing Schools. He was a committee member until 2007, and was elected Chairman in 2004 for two years.

He later helped the Doncaster college obtain training camp status for the 2012 London Olympics.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, children Jonathan and Elizabeth, and four grandchildren.