Racing remembers its ‘noble lord’ and jockeys inspiration

JOHN Oaksey, one of racing’s greatest Corinthians and the inspiration behind the Injured Jockeys Fund, has died after a long illness.

One of the sport’s most familiar faces, first on the ITV Seven and then Channel Four Racing, the world of, horse racing united last night to pay its respects to the 83-year-old whose colours were carried to victory by Carruthers in an emotional Hennessy Gold Cup last season.

But Lord Oaksey will always be associated with his work for injured jockeys, which began when Paddy Farrell was seriously injured in the 1964 Grand National. The charity has helped more than 1,000 riders since its inception.

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A lasting legacy is Oaksey House, a groundbreaking rehabilitation centre in Lambourn and the prototype for a similar facility that Leeds-raised Jack Berry, the former trainer and IJF vice-president, is seeking to build in Malton.

“It’s a very sad day. He was a star man in every respect,” said Mr Berry. “He worked tirelessly for the IJF from its outset in 1964 when Paddy Farrell had his accident. I can’t speak highly enough of him. At trustee meetings, he would stand his corner for the beneficiaries and would give 100 per cent.”

Born John Lawrence in March 1929, his father Geoffrey – the 1st Baron Oaksey – was chief judge at the Nuremberg trials. Educated at Eton and Yale, Lord Oaksey was an enthusiastic amateur rider, winning the 1958 Hennessy on Taxidermist and finishing second in the Grand National on Carrickbeg in 1963. He became regarded as Britain’s finest post-war racing writer.

Channel 4 Racing pundit John McCririck was a long-standing colleague of Oaksey, and coined the phrase ‘My Noble Lord’.

“The Noble Lord was the last of the gifted English Corinthians,” he said. “His passing deprives us of a man who gave so much and nurtured the best in mankind while ignoring the worst.”