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Dettori teams up with Murtagh as Bellewstown remembers Barney Curley

Frankie Dettori will ride for his former weighing room colleague Johnny Murtagh in a special race run in memory of Barney Curley at Bellewstown on Thursday.

The Italian is among 14 jockeys declared to take part in the Gannons City Recovery And Recycling Services Ltd Supporting DAFA Handicap, with all monies raised donated to Curley’s charity, Direct Aid for Africa (DAFA), which he set up in 1996 to support the underprivileged people of Zambia.

Dettori will partner the Murtagh-trained Trueba in the seven-and-a-half-furlong contest.

Frankie Dettori (left) and Johnny Murtagh are old weighing room pals
Frankie Dettori (left) and Johnny Murtagh are old weighing room pals (PA)

Jamie Spencer and Shane Kelly, also close friends of the late Curley, join Dettori on the trip across the Irish Sea to ride in the race, with Tom Queally also attending to support the raceday.

Murtagh said: “I’m delighted to be supporting the race and to have Frankie riding for me in Barney’s honour is a real thrill.

“Frankie is one of my best mates, he’s had a few rides, but he hasn’t ridden a winner for me yet!

“I went out to Zambia with Barney many years ago and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve seen at first hand the work the charity does, and it makes such a difference to the lives of so many people.”

He went on: “Barney was a great man, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed his company, the wonderful stories he told will live long in my memory.”

Champion jockey Colin Keane and leading rider Wayne Lordan are also among the riders taking part.

The saddlecloths have all been sponsored to raise money for DAFA and were allocated to the declared horses in a draw that took place at Bellewstown on Tuesday morning.

Frankie Dettori headlines star riders taking part in Bellewstown charity race

Frankie Dettori will ride in a special race at Bellewstown on September 30 in memory of trainer Barney Curley, who died aged in May at the age of 81.

Curley was not only a successful trainer but also masterminded some of racing’s most famous betting coups, not least that involving Yellow Sam at Bellewstown in June 1975.

He was also famed for the work he did for his charity, Direct Aid For Africa, which he founded in 1996 and will benefit from funds raised by the race.

Each saddlecloth in the race is available for sponsorship for a minimum of €5,000 and several fundraising activities and events are planned on the day.

As well as Dettori, Jamie Spencer, Tom Queally and Shane Kelly will join top Flat jockeys from Ireland.

Sponsored by Curley’s friend Tony Gannon, the €20,000 Gannons City Recovery And Recycling Services Ltd Supporting DAFA Handicap, over one mile, will be the feature event at the County Meath venue.

Dettori, said: “Tom, Jamie, Shane and I are really looking forward to visiting Bellewstown to ride in the Gannons City Recovery And Recycling Services Ltd supporting DAFA race in memory of our great friend and his charity.

“Barney was very good to all of us from the moment we arrived in England. He was always at the end of the phone with good advice and while Barney didn’t say a lot, when he did you listened very carefully. His advice helped us with the many successes we have had in our respective careers.

“The lads and I would encourage everyone to get behind this special race, donate what you can and support the wonderful work of DAFA.”

Gannon said: “I am delighted to sponsor this very special race in aid of my late friend Barney and his brilliant charity DAFA. Pat Gallagher, a Kent-based Leitrim businessman and friend of Barney, and I are also delighted to sponsor a saddlecloth each to further support what should be a great day on the hill of Crockafotha.”

The first race is at 1.25pm and tickets will go on sale on Tuesday, September 7.

Famed gambler and former trainer Barney Curley dies at the age of 81

Barney Curley, the mastermind behind some of racing’s most famous betting coups and successful former trainer, has died at the age of 81.

Northern Ireland-born Curley’s skirmishes with the bookmakers and dramatic gambles became the stuff of legend, in particular that involving Yellow Sam in June 1975

He was also famed for the work he did for his charity, Direct Aid For Africa, which he founded in 1996.

Newmarket-based John Butler was assistant to Curley for a number of years and paid tribute to his former boss, who had battled against cancer.

“He died very peacefully on the stud (in Newmarket) on Sunday. It was pretty sudden, he got poorly very quickly,” he said.

“I came over to England (from Ireland) 18 to 20 years ago and worked for him for seven or eight years. It’s a sad day.”

In 2007 Curley – who won the Imperial Cup at Sandown in 2000 with Magic Combination – announced he would be dedicating more time to his charity, one which attracted a £2.5million donation from Sheikh Mohammed.

Butler said: “His charity was his main thing the last 10 or 15 years, it was always the charity no matter what.

“Every day it was his charity. On several occasions we emptied furniture out of schools and filled containers and he always went away and the charity came first. The horses were there, but the charity was a massive thing.

“You could spend all night talking about him. He was very good to me, he was just one of those people.”

Curley, who had his last runners in 2012, was instrumental in the early careers of jockeys such as Frankie Dettori and Jamie Spencer.

Butler added: “He was good to Spencer and (Tom) Queally and Shane Kelly, Frankie – I think Frankie went to see him every day for the last two or three weeks.”

Adding his tribute, multiple champion National Hunt jockey Sir Anthony McCoy wrote on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that Barney Curley has passed away.

“Feel lucky to have enjoyed his company – a man with well-founded legendary status as a trainer/gambler, but one who also raised lots for the charity Direct Aid For Africa. RIP.”

Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer Jonjo O’Neill tweeted: “Very sorry to hear the sad news that Barney Curley has died.

“One of racing’s great characters. RIP.”

Presenter Derek Thompson said on his Twitter page: “So sad to hear of the passing of Barney Curley at the age of 81.

“His racing tales were legendary but the work he put in to help the poor in Africa was absolutely outstanding. RIP Barney.”