Gillies remembered at the Gold Cup

Campbell Gillies and Brindisi Breeze 2012

Campbell Gillies and Brindisi Breeze

There are many horses we might have hoped to see at Cheltenham this week, but who for various reasons have not made it. For many, like Big Buck's there should be another opportunity next year, for others, like Darlan, there won’t. One of the most poignant moments of the Festival will take place today, when another absentee, young jockey Campbell Gillies is remembered.

Gillies rode what turned out to be his only Festival winner when bringing Brindisi Breeze home in front for trainer Lucinda Russell in last year’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. His death in a swimming accident in Corfu on the day before his 22nd birthday last June shocked everybody in racing.

It led teenage singer-songwriter Mark Boylan to write his own tribute, a charity single called A Song For Campbell, which the 15 year old will sing as part of a wider remembrance of Gillies. Boylan said, “I’m a massive racing fan and when I heard of the loss of Campbell I was deeply upset by the whole thing. You’d need to be made of steel for it not to have an impact on you.”

Boylan has performed one of his compositions at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, with one song in honour of the Festival itself, and the other celebrating Kauto Star. Now, after receiving messages suggesting he write something to honour Gillies, he has done just that, and moreover is donating all the proceeds from the single to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund.

Now, after Cheltenham managing director Ian Renton consulted with Gillies’ family and closest friends, the song will have a huge audience this afternoon. Giving his blessing to the commemoration, Renton said, “I’ve spoken to Mark and he’s really excited. We’ve spoken to Lucinda (Russell, for whom Gillies regularly rode) and Peter (Scudamore) to get their thoughts and, having noted Campbell’s mother’s views on the song and established how those close to Campbell feel, it’s the right thing to do and we’ll be putting everything in place for Mark to perform. We’ve also asked Lucinda to say a few words.”

Both will be listened to earnestly in what will probably be the quietest five minutes of the whole afternoon.

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