Obituary: Ridley Lamb

Reginald Ridley Lamb, jockey, trainer: born Northumberland 22 February 1955; died Seahouses, Northumberland 25 July 1994.

NORTHERN racing has lost one of its most popular and successful figures with the death of Ridley Lamb, whose biggest success as a jockey came when he rode The Thinker to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1987. Lamb died yesterday after the car he was travelling in left the quayside at Seahouses, in Northumberland, and plunged into 10ft of water. Lamb's friend and colleague Alan Merrigan died in the same accident.

The Gold Cup is in many ways the pinnacle of the jumps season, being a better quality event than the Grand National, and Lamb's victory on The Thinker provided one of the most memorable runnings of steeplechasing's Blue Riband. For a start, it took place on a blanket of snow. A blizzard minutes before the race put the Gold Cup in jeopardy, but after a delay the race went ahead. In a gruelling finish, The Thinker won by a length and a half from Cybrandian.

That success was the best of Ridley Lamb's 547 winners, but he was no one-hit wonder. He also won the 1977 Scottish Grand National on Sebastian V, who went on to finish second for him in the Grand National at Aintree a year later, the 1980 Greenall Whitley Handicap Chase on Cavity Hunter at Haydock and several other winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

Lamb started his career by working for his father, Reg, a permit holder at Seahouses. Ridley's first win came at the early age of 15 when he won a hurdle race at Catterick on White Speck in February 1971. A year later he rode one of the three winners which gave his father a treble at the same course. It was only a matter of time before Lamb turned professional and that happened in 1975, the season after he had won the amateur jockeys' championship with 22 winners.

As an amateur, Lamb had won the 1975 Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Quick Reply for Harry Bell, the trainer of Sebastian V. Another notable Cheltenham achievement came in 1979 when he rode a double for George Fairbairn on Fair View in the Ritz Club Chase and Brawny Scot in the Mildmay of Flete Chase.

That was the year which marked the biggest break of Lamb's career: his appointment in 1979 as first jockey to Arthur Stephenson, who at the time had the biggest training set-up in jump racing. Lamb replaced the retired Tommy Stack, and although he admitted he often suffered from crises of confidence, Lamb finished his first season with 85 winners, third to Jonjo O'Neill in the jump jockeys' championship. That was his best season numerically. Lean times followed. One of the worst was in 1983 when he was laid low by a mystery back injury which kept him in hospital, and in traction, for 12 weeks. That was followed by an infected hip joint.

In the same year that he won the Gold Cup on The Thinker, Lamb retired from the saddle and set up as a trainer at East Fleetham Stables, Seahouses, Northumberland. He had his first licence in the 1989-90 season and trained a total of eight winners. He also acted as a steward at Carlisle, Hexham and Sedgefield.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn