Apprentice jockeys killed in arson attack

Police arrest local man after two riders die in blaze started during party at block of flats

Sadie Gray
Sunday 06 September 2009 00:00

Tributes have been paid to a rising young star in the racing world who was one of two apprentice jockeys to die when an arson attack gutted a block of flats in Yorkshire.

Irish-born Jamie Kyne, 18, rode his first winner in December in 2007 and this year had notched up 29 victories including the £40,000 Sprint at York in May, the biggest win of what racing pundits were tipping to be a stellar career.

His family, who run Kiltrogue stud farm in Claregalway, Co Galway, last night confirmed that he had died in the blaze. They released a statement saying they were "so proud of him" and were "devastated" by his death.

The fire started at 2.15am yesterday during a party at the flats in Norton, near Malton, North Yorkshire, and quickly became an inferno.

Also believed dead was apprentice jockey Jan Wilson, 19, who had been due to ride Imperial Sword, owned by her mother Margaret, at Thirsk yesterday afternoon.

Mrs Wilson, of Greenhead Farm, Rescobie, was last night awaiting confirmation of her daughter's death.

North Yorkshire Police have arrested a local man in his thirties who was last night being questioned on suspicion of starting the fire.

Racecourses at Kempton and Thirsk yesterday held a period of silence in remembrance of the pair, and jockeys racing at Stratford wore black armbands.

Trainers and jockeys lined up to pay tribute to Mr Kyne's prodigious talent. Trainer Adrian McGuinness, of Lusk, Co Dublin, called him "the jewel of the north" and said: "He was very good, one of the best young riders about and probably one of the top apprentices in England at the moment. He was a topping young lad."

Mr Kyne, who had been booked to ride at Haydock yesterday afternoon, was "a good rider and had a lovely personality", said Declan Carroll, the trainer who brought him to England to ride on the northern circuit and provided him with his first winner in December 2007.

He said: "I brought Jamie to this country from Galway. I saw him riding at the Kempton Breeze-Ups. I made some inquiries and he then came up to me at the sales and said he wanted to be a jockey. He was a good rider and had a lovely personality."

Mr Kyne was attached to the Yorkshire-based trainer John Quinn, whose National Hunt stable jockey, Dougie Costello, said: "Jamie was such a talent. But not just that: he was a really bright lad and was always smiling. We are a very tight team as a whole, so this has hit us really hard."

Hundreds of people have joined a Facebook group in a tribute to the two dead jockeys. Mr Quinn's son, Sean, wrote of Mr Kyne: "Jeez, you had some talent. Me and Dad were just talking about those horses you won on that no one else could. The yard was silent this morning, which makes a change and shows just how popular you were."

North Yorkshire Police were unable to rule out the possibility that more people had died in the fire because the building, Buckrose Court, had yet to be made safe enough for forensic experts to search it. About 20 people were evacuated from the building, and some were thought to have jumped out of windows and shinned down drainpipes as flames ripped through the building.

Two other people who were in the block at the time, also believed to be apprentice jockeys, were taken to York District Hospital and treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

One, Ian Brennan, 20, was released from hospital in time to ride at Thirsk yesterday. The other man has not been discharged, but was not thought to have life-threatening injuries.

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