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Obituary: Alex Scott

Alexander Archibald Scott, racehorse trainer: born 8 February 1960; married 1986 Julia Dean (two sons, one daughter); died Cheveley, Cambridgeshire 30 September 1994.

ALEX SCOTT was one of the leading young Flat trainers in Britain and one of only two British handlers to have trained a winner at a Breeders' Cup meeting in the United States. In his six seasons as a licence-holder in Newmarket, Scott trained 164 winners, 30 of them this season.

Scott enjoyed an extraordinary first year as a trainer, in 1989, when still in his twenties, winning two Group One sprints, the July Cup at Newmarket and the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, with the brilliant Cadeaux Genereux. Two years later he sealed his reputation as a first-rate young handler and made his mark internationally when Sheikh Albadou won the Breeders' Cup Sprint on the dirt track at Churchill Downs, Kentucky. Scott campaigned the three- year-old Sheikh Albadou progressively during the 1991 season, starting with a maiden race at Pontefract and taking in the Nunthorpe Stakes in August. Ridden for speed in the Prix de l'Abbaye at the Arc meeting in October, the colt was defeated. But at Churchill Downs a month later he was held up and brought, with a storming run by Pat Eddery, to land an historic win in the Sprint.

Scott was born in 1960, the third son of James Scott, a soldier and heir to the Rotherfield Park estate, in Hampshire, and Anne, the daughter of Lt-Col Clive Austin, a neighbouring squire. James Scott's father, Sir Jervoise Scott Bt, died in 1965, and Alex came with his parents, sister and two elder brothers to live at Rotherfield, a 19th- century house set in a commanding position in country to the south of Alton. James and Anne Scott bred and raced horses and also staged a horse-trials event on the estate. Sir James Scott retired as commanding officer of the Household Cavalry's mounted regiment in 1969, and was Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire from 1982 until his death last November.

Alex Scott was educated at Eton and at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he studied theology as Part I of his Tripos before switching to land economy for his degree. He was a popular undergraduate, raced in point-to-points and rode out Flat racehorses at exercise at Newmarket during his final year at the university. He started in racing in 1981 as assistant trainer to Peter Calver at Ripon, in Yorkshire. A year later he went as assistant to Harry Thomson-Jones at Newmarket, and in 1985 moved to West Ilsley, in Berkshire, as assistant trainer to Dick Hern, one of the legendary figures in modern Flat history.

In May 1988 Scott bought the Fitzroy House stables in Newmarket, to set up on his own in the following season. But a month later he was offered the post of trainer at Oak Stables, also in Newmarket, for the leading owner Sheikh Maktoum Al-Maktoum, while being free to train for other owners as well. The previous man in the post, the French trainer Olivier Douieb, had had to return to France because of ill-health. Fitzroy House was leased out (and later sold) and Scott took over at the ultra-modern Oak Stables, which housed Cadeaux Genereux and Great Commotion, another top-class three-year-old. In Scott's six seasons at Oak Stables, his wife, Julia, with her background in the bloodstock business and detailed knowledge of breeding and racing, played a considerable part in the stable's success.

In the year of Sheikh Albadou's Breeders' Cup win, Scott secured his first Classic victory with Possessive Dancer, who won the Oaks d'Italia before taking the Irish Oaks at The Curragh. After an interrupted start to his four-year-old career, Sheikh Albadou was brought back in good style in 1992 to land the highly competitive King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Haydock Sprint Cup.

The stable's most notable success this season was Fraam's victory in the Golden Mile at Goodwood. Fraam, owned by Maktoum Al-Maktoum, also won the listed Joel Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday, giving Scott what turned out to be his final victory. Last year, Scott bought Glebe House and its stud farm, at Cheveley, while keeping his training operation at Oak Stables.

In the generally introverted racing world, Alex Scott was a notably well-rounded figure. He was dedicated to the responsibilities of running a large training establishment but also easy-going and approachable; a large, almost bear- like figure with a smile that spread right across his face, naturally adept at the communicating with wide varieties of people that forms such an important part of a racehorse trainer's life.

Scott was shot dead at his Glebe House stud farm at Cheveley on Friday evening. William O'Brien, the former chief groom at the stud, will appear in court today charged with murdering Scott and threatening to kill a second man.

(Photograph omitted)