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Family devastated by jockey Campbell Gillies holiday death


The family of a young jockey killed in an accident while on holiday have told of their devastation at his death.

Campbell Gillies, who was to turn 22 tomorrow, died in Kavos on the Greek island of Corfu earlier today.

The Cheltenham-winning rider was on holiday with fellow jockeys Nathan Moscrop, Henry Brooke and Harry Haynes, as well as head lad at his yard Mark Ellwood.

He is thought to have died in a swimming pool accident.

Gillies is the brother of Glasgow Warriors hooker Finlay Gillies.

Speaking on behalf of Gillies' mother Lesley, sister Rita, and Finlay, his uncle, Rory McNeill, said: "The whole family is devastated and trying to come to terms with our loss. Campbell was dearly loved by one and all, and this is shown by the tributes to Campbell. We hope that at this time we can be given the space and time to grieve."

Gillies rode Brindisi Breeze to victory in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The horse was killed last month when he jumped out of a paddock and was hit by a lorry on a nearby road.

Born in Haddington in East Lothian, Gillies attended the British Racing School and was associated with the Willie Amos-trained Lie Forrit. He primarily rode for handler Lucinda Russell, based in Perth and Kinross, after joining her team in 2007.

She said: "We are immensely proud of the achievements of Campbell. It was through his innate ability and talent that he reached great heights as a jockey at such an early age. More than that, he had a wonderful charm that I believe came across to everyone who met him and through his media interviews."

Assistant trainer Peter Scudamore said: "His victory at Cheltenham on Brindisi Breeze was the pinnacle of Campbell's career; the race epitomised him as a jockey, his belief and confidence and his innate timing. He became one with the horse. This empathy and love of his horses was one of the reasons that he was a truly great jockey."

Gillies' agent, Paul Brierley, also paid tribute, saying he was "one of the brightest talents in jumps racing".

He added: "To me he was also a very close friend on and off the track. He will be sadly missed. It's a real tragedy to all connected to him in racing, and I will miss him greatly."

His staff profile on Ms Russell's website said: "Campbell Gillies joined us in the autumn of 2007 and quickly established himself as one of the country's leading conditionals."

The site includes a quotation from Gillies: "It does not matter what you are going to do, always strive to be the best."

Gillies rode his first winner in the 2007-08 season and had 131 winners under his belt.

Last year was his best campaign, with 38 winners. He was in action as recently as last Sunday at Hexham.

The charity The Injured Jockeys Fund, which provides care and financial help to injured riders and their families, is helping Gillies' family and the jockeys who are still in Corfu.

A spokesman said: "The whole racing community wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to Campbell's family at this tragic time. We will be doing all that we can to assist the family and remaining jockeys still in Corfu.

"Campbell was a hugely popular jockey and will be sorely missed by all of his friends and colleagues."

Tributes to the young rider from the racing world flooded on to Twitter.

Gold Cup-winning jockey Paddy Brennan wrote: "The worst news you cud possibly hear. Campbell you will be sadly missed by us all. Great jockey & even better bloke £RIP."

Champion jockey Tony McCoy said: "Very sad news about Campbell Gillies a very good jockey but an even better bloke. All our thoughts are with his family RIP."

Grand National-winning jockey Barry Geraghty said: "Very sad news about Campbell Gillies, a very good rider & a lovely fella. He will be sadly missed. All our thoughts are with his family RIP."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Corfu on 26 June. We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time."