Rebecca Bastiman - Father's tribute to 'beautiful girl who lived and breathed horses'

The racing world has paid tribute to Yorkshire trainer Rebecca Bastiman following her death at the age of 40 from a long-term illness, writes Jeff Garlick.

Rebecca Bastiman passed away this week at the age of 40. Picture: Facebook/Rebecca Bastiman

Becky, as she was known to everyone in the sport, took over the reins at her family yard from father Robin Bastiman in 2015, saddling more than 100 winners.

“Becky was a beautiful girl who just lived and breathed horses," Robin Bastiman said.

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"She had such a unique gift when handling horses and will be sadly missed by all at our stables”.

Rebecca Bastiman at Beverley Racecourse.

While it is for her work as a trainer that she was best known, Becky had been a mainstay at Goosemoor Farm in Cowthorpe near Wetherby long before taking charge there.

She combined with her father, mother Pauline and brother Harvey to work as a true family racing unit.

Becky went to junior schools in Harrogate and Sicklinghall and later attended Wetherby High School. She learnt to ride, along with Harvey, under the tutelage of Yvonne Lowther at Sicklinghall and was always the first to arrive and last to leave her stables, such was Becky’s love of horses.

When she was eight years old, the family won a "tidy sum" at Beverley Races and she insisted on a pony out of the winnings. Soon after, Becky was to be seen riding her first pony, Kisser, up the stable gallops following the string of racehorses.

Soon, she was riding out the horses at 6.30am before going to school and then dashing back home to help with feeding time at evening stables. She spent time in Australia and with the Godolphin outfit in Dubai to expand her equine education, but was recalled to Cowthorpe by Robin, who needed her expertise in his yard.

Becky rode three winners as an amateur jockey, but training and caring for the horses was always her first love. She was particularly adept at dealing with troublesome horses.

Robin recalled that they acquired a horse from John Gosden called Turgenev who turned out to be a bit of a rogue. Becky had such a calming influence on Turgenev that he ended up winning eight races for his owner, a certain Pauline Bastiman!

After taking over the licence in 2015, Becky stamped her authority on the yard and changed the regime around to such effect that she trained more than 100 winners.

Her best year was in 2018 when she had 27 winners earning £247,336 for her loyal owners. Her best horse was Hayadh, a five-time victor who she also owned and who landed the Thirsk Hunt Cup in 2019.

Becky’s 110 per cent dedication to the love and care of her four-legged friends helped her to cope with the long term illness which affected her later in life.

The news of Becky’s death on Sunday brought a flood of tributes on social media. Fellow Yorkshire trainer Julie Camacho said: “She is a big loss to the racing world and we are so sorry to hear of her passing”.

Scottish trainer Linda Perratt posted: “Our memory of Rebecca will be her greeting us with a smile and friendly chat. We’ll miss her on the Northern circuit”.

Becky and her father Robin will forever be associated with the super sprinter Borderlescott. She helped in his rise from a modest handicapper to a superstar who won back-to-back Nunthorpe Stakes in 2008 and 2009.

Indeed, the last time I spoke to Becky was to discuss a piece on Borderlescott for one of my Turf Talk columns for the Harrogate Advertiser Series last April.

A copy of the article takes pride of place in the gallery on her website. We both laughed when it was discovered that ‘Scotty’, foaled on April 21, shared a birthday with our Queen’s actual birthday.

Becky Bastiman will forever be the Queen of Yorkshire racing in my eyes. R.I.P Becky.