A day after losing Ginger McCain, the Turf yesterday found itself mourning another remarkable achiever in Michael Jarvis. He was 73.
One of Newmarket's longest-serving trainers, prior to his retirement through ill health last winter, Jarvis saddled a series of elite performers, including the 1989 Arc winner, Carroll House, and recent Classic winners in Ameerat and Eswarah. Scrupulously understated, he could hardly have struck a greater contrast to the outspoken McCain. But he was no less cherished, being hugely respected throughout the sport's professional community.
Its only comfort is that his assistant, Roger Varian, has already promised to prove worthy of his legacy during his first season in charge of Kremlin House Stables. "It's a terribly sad day," Varian said. "His achievements and racing exploits go without saying, but he was a true gentleman. He happened to be a great racehorse trainer as well, but first and foremost he was just a wonderful man. He won many big races, but probably put up the bravest fight of his life against cancer. He battled hard and saw it out as long as he possibly could."
Michael Kinane, the former jockey who ranks Carroll House as the breakthrough horse of his own career, echoed those sentiments. "Michael was a lovely man to ride for, and a lovely man to know," Kinane said. "He was a thorough gentleman. It's so unfortunate he didn't get to enjoy his retirement."
Philip Robinson, who rode many big winners as stable jockey to Jarvis, was devastated. "It's heartbreaking," he said. "In all the years I've had anything to do with him, I've never known anybody say a bad word about him. That for me sums it up. He was a gentleman and an exceptional trainer, who was able to get the best out of horses. Not just in training them, but in placing them. We had a purple run for a few years, and it was a privilege to be there."