Michael Jarvis: Classic-winning racing trainer regarded as one of the most highly respected members of his profession

 

Michael Jarvis, who has died of prostate cancer, was not only a Classic-winning racehorse trainer; he was one of the most highly respected members of his profession.

In a career lasting well over 40 years, a man described by the Racing Post as the "universally popular doyen of Newmarket trainers" saddled a multitude of major winners, highlighted by Carroll Street's victory in the 1989 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the most prestigious race on the European calendar.

Among his other big-race winners were a pair of English Classics, via Ameerat in the 1,000 Guineas and Eswarah in the Oaks, plus more than his share of significant victories on the continent, where he won Derbies in both France and Italy and two runnings of Germany's No 1 race, the Grosser Preis von Baden. Jarvis also won both the English and Irish Champion Stakes and several of the country's best-loved handicaps, such as the Ebor, Northumberland Plate, Chester Cup and Royal Ascot's Wokingham Stakes. Alongside his Arc and Classic winners, Jarvis's better horses included multiple Group 1 winners Beldale Flutter and the talented but temperamental Rakti, whom he described as the best he had ever trained, plus the leading sprinters So Blessed, Green God and Petong.

The son of a jump jockey, Michael Jarvis failed as a rider himself (he had only three winners) but stayed in racing as a groom, making him a rare example of a leading trainer who worked himself right up from the bottom of the industry. After spells with leading trainers like Ryan Price and Towser Gosden, he led up the 1966 Derby winner Charlottown for trainer Gordon Smyth. Much to Jarvis's chagrin, it was as near as he ever got to winning the Epsom Classic, although he went close in 2006 when Hala Bek threw away a winning chance when veering across the track to finish fourth behind Sir Percy. He did, though, win the French version at Chantilly in 2000 with Holding Court, plus two runnings of the Derby Italiano in Rome with Prorutori and Morshdi.

He took his first training licence in his own right in 1968 as salariedprivate trainer to a demandingemployer, the Radio Rentals tycoon David Robinson, a notoriously hard taskmaster who installed Jarvis in Carlburg Stables in Newmarket. He gained notable success right away, winning the July Cup in his first two seasons with So Blessed and Tudor Music, as well as the Nunthorpe and Haydock Sprint Cup, a race he was to win three times altogether.

Robinson left the sport in the mid-1970s, a decade in which Jarvis moved around stables in Newmarket before landing at Kremlin House, where he remained until the end of his career.

Numbering the hugely successful owner Lady Beaverbrook among his patrons, Jarvis won plenty of high-profile races in the years after his break with Robinson, including an International Stakes at York with Beldale Flutter in 1981 and a Coronation Cup at the Derby meeting a year later with Easter Sun. Although Carroll House provided the biggest success of Jarvis's career in 1989 when landing the Arc under Mick Kinane, some dark days followed in the early 1990s when he lost several major patrons, headed by Beaverbrook and Carroll House's owner Antonio Balzarini. By his own admission, Jarvis "almost went bust", his string down to fewer than 30 horses, resulting in a "personal worst" score of just 15 winners in 1994.

The light at the end of that tunnel for Jarvis came from the same place as British racing as a whole: Dubai. Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, the youngest of the four brothers who have pumped millions into the sport, made him one of his principal trainers in what was to become a long association. It was Sheikh Ahmed's filly Ameerat who became the trainer's first British Classic winner in the 1,000 Guineas of 2001 – unsurprisingly, Jarvis always spoke of her as his favourite horse – while Ahmed's brother Hamdan sent him Eswarah, the Oaks winner of 2005.

He trained the brilliant, belligerent Rakti for the noted internationalist Gary Tanaka. As headstrong an individual as you are likely to see on a racecourse, the ex-Italian miler was famously tricky to manage, almost wild by one account. Jarvis proved more than equal to the challenge as the horse went on to a string of Group 1 victories, among them the Champion Stakes, Prince of Wales's Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Rakti's CV was a powerful advertisement for his veteran trainer's enduring talents, and Jarvis went on to enjoy a golden autumn in his 60s, despite health worries. Remarkably, he enjoyed his best season numerically at the age of 70 in 2008 when his select operation was responsible for more than 100 winners for the first time.

His name was a byword for integrity in an industry not always overblessed with the attribute, and Jarvis was noted for his dedication and loyalty: in 43 years he employed three stable jockeys, Frankie Durr, Bruce Raymond and Philip Robinson. His health failing, Jarvis announced retirement with immediate effect in February this year, handing over the reins at his Kremlin House yard to his long-term assistant, Roger Varian. He is survived by his second wife Gay and three daughters, Sarah, Lisa and Jackie.

Michael Andrew Jarvis, racing trainer: born Lewes, Sussex 14 August 1938; married twice (three daughters); died Newmarket, Suffolk 20 September 2011.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington
tv
Voices
Almost one in 10 of British soliders fall victim to serious psychiatric side-effects after being prescribed Lariam.
CHRISTMAS APPEALThis is how one charity is using that 'waste' to feed Britain's war heroes
Life and Style
Facebook has apologised after a new feature inviting users to review a collection of their 2014 highlights caused some to be confronted with pictures of their recently deceased family members and friends
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?