Obituary: Simon Weinstock

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The Independent Online
Simon Weinstock was the third descendant of a great modern racing dynasty. His family owned several top-class racehorses, the greatest of which was undoubtedly Troy, the winner by a staggering seven lengths of the Derby at Epsom in 1979.

The colt, which ran in the colours of Weinstock's grandfather, the late Sir Michael Sobell, went on to win the Irish Derby at the Curragh, the King George VI and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot, and the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup at York. Troy then sired Helen Street, who won the Irish Oaks for the Weinstocks in 1985.

Weinstock was the family's expert on breeding and form, who basically managed all their racing affairs. He was active alongside his father Lord Weinstock in the family's racing business for over 20 years. Father and son had equal shares in almost all the horses that passed through their hands.

Most of the horses the Weinstocks raced were bred by them at the 300-acre Ballymacoll Stud farm in County Meath in Ireland. The trainers they patronised over the years included Major Dick Hern, the French trainers David Smaga - who trained Lancastrian to win the 1983 Prix Ganay for them at Longchamp - and John Hammond, Lord Huntingdon, Peter Chapple-Hyam and Michael Stoute. This season the Weinstocks have 37 horses spread between eight different trainers in Britain and France.

The most notable horse to run in Simon Weinstock's own colours was Ela- Mana-Mou, whom he shrewdly purchased out of the trainer Guy Harwood's stable at the end of the 1979 season. Under the care of his new trainer Dick Hern, Ela-Mana-Mou went on to win the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park and the King George VI and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in 1980.

The Weinstocks' best filly was Sun Princess, who won the Oaks by 12 lengths as a maiden (the first race she had ever won) in 1983 and then went on to further Classic success in the St Leger at Doncaster.

The one big race which always eluded Weinstock was the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. The family came loose on a number of occasions: Homeric, Ela-Man-Mou and Sun Princess were all placed in the race, but their biggest disappointment came in 1979 when even Troy succumbed to the family's Arc hoodoo, running below his best to finish third to Three Troikas.

More recently, the Weinstocks won last year's Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh with Spectrum, who went on to win the Champion Stakes at Newmarket. The colt, who the Weinstocks own in partnership with Robert Sangster, remains in training this year. And they have a contender for this year's Derby in Nash House, who, prior to his disappointing fourth place in the Dante Stakes at York last week, had been disputing ante-post favouritism for the Epsom Classic.

Simon Weinstock was a leading member of the small, tightly knit group that runs General Electric Co (GEC), the largest and most profitable of Britain's defence and heavy engineering businesses, writes Stephen Aris. He was also the only and much-loved son of Lord Weinstock, the creator and driving force of the modern GEC.

It is no secret that it was Arnold Weinstock's dearest wish that Simon should succeed him as chief executive. As Weinstock pere is already several years past the official GEC retirement date, the succession should have been settled some time ago. But the City institutions were reluctant to give Simon their backing. And though the Weinstock family is the largest single private shareholder, the City's views could not be ignored - which is why, earlier this year, the palm went, not to Simon, but to George Simpson of Lucas.

With a figure as strong as Arnold Weinstock, it was inevitable that the son should have been somewhat in his father's shadow. Educated at Winchester and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Greats, Simon Weinstock struck those that met him as a young man as being shy and ill at ease in large groups or in unfamiliar surroundings. However, close friends and colleagues say that he was good company with a tremendous sense of humour.

His wedding to Laura Legh, the daughter of Major Sir Francis Legh, equerry to the Queen Mother and private secretary to Princess Margaret, was a grand affair with a reception at St James's Palace, the centrepiece of which was an enormous cake decorated with the colours carried by the Weinstocks' Derby winner, Troy.

After a spell in the City with S.G. Warburg, Simon Weinstock joined GEC in 1982 and five years later was appointed to the board as commercial director. He had special responsibility for the defence side of the business. He negotiated, among others, the Marconi/ Matra joint venture and played an all important part in the company's dealings with the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, the most recent concerning the takeover of VSEL, the warship builders.

Simon Weinstock, businessman and racehorse owner: born 24 February 1952; married Laura Legh (three daughters); died 18 May 1996.