Today is a desperately sad day for racing with the news that talented young jockey Campbell Gillies has passed away.
Details of his death are sketchy at the time of writing but unconfirmed reports say the Scotsman died in what has been described as an accident while on holiday with some jockey pals on the Greek island of Corfu.
The 21-year-old was a rising star in National Hunt racing and was attached to Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore’s upwardly mobile Arlary House yard in Kinross.
Fittingly his last winner was for the Russell yard on June 16 at Hexham, riding the 6yo Fog Patches to a comfortable victory in a 2m 4f handicap chase.
But he will be most remembered for the wonderful ride he gave the six-year-old Brindisi Breeze in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Oozing confidence during every yard of the 3m contest, Campbell made most of the running and got the better of Ruby Walsh on Boston Bob in a stirring finish. You can relive it here
Brindisi Breeze lost his life in a freak accident a little over a month ago. How sad that young Campbell has now gone too. Brindisi looked like a future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner; Campbell had the style of a future champion jockey.
Born in Haddington in East Lothian, Campbell attended the British Racing School upon leaving school in August 2006, following a path trodden by his older sister Rita.
Campbell’s grandad John McNeill had sparked his interest in racehorses as a point-to-point trainer and he gained experience on weekends and school holidays at the yard of William Amos in Hawick.
Following a Foundation Apprenticeship course Campbell attended a Conditional Jockeys Course in November 2006, a rapid progression. His first winner was on Gunson Hight in May 2007 at 33-1 but an equally important winner for him was aboard his grandad’s horse Lie Forritt at 100-1.
He will be sorely missed by everyone in racing.