Maurice Zilber, who died on 21 December 2008 at the age of 88, was the last French trainer tosaddle a Derby winner – Empery, ridden by Lester Piggott in 1976 – and was perhaps best known for his work with Dahlia, one of horse racing's most famous fillies.
Born in Cairo to a French-Hungarian father and a Turkish mother, Zilber spent the first 15 years of his career in Egypt, where he saddled hundreds of winners. He moved to France in 1962. There he enjoyed huge success, especially in the 1970s when, apart from Dahliaand Empery, he saddled Nobiliary to second place in the 1975 Derby – the last filly to be placed in the Epsom Classic.
Among his other successes were the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1973 and 1974 with Dahlia and two Benson and Hedges Gold Cups in 1974 and 1975, again with Dahlia. He was also successful in the United States, winning the Washington International with Dahlia, Nobiliary, Youth and Argument.
Zilber – who once described jockeys as "pygmies in boots" – continued to train into his eighties, retiring only in 2005.Reuse content