Tributes paid to Zoe Davison on emotional day at Plumpton

Tributes were paid to Zoe Davison on Sunday as the trainer lost her long battle with cancer on the day her family-run yard registered a double at Plumpton.

Brown Bullet and Mr Jack were the poignant winners before Davison, 60, sadly died at her Shovelstrode Racing Stables in East Grinstead, Sussex.

Her husband Andrew Irvine – whom she married in 2018 – was by her side, with her family around her. The couple have two teenage daughters, Charlotte and Harriette.

He said: “She was the most wonderful, incredible person. I am blessed to have spent the last 24 years of my life with her.”

Gemelle Johnson, assistant to her mother, who has another daughter, Georgie, said: “I just feel a bit numb inside because of everything.

Mr Jack made it a poignant double for the Zoe Davison yard under James Davies
Mr Jack made it a poignant double for the Zoe Davison yard under James Davies (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I’m a bit overwhelmed we’ve had a double for mum. Hopefully we have made her proud. It’s surreal.

“Our team is a family business and we put everything into it. She will be thoroughly missed as she is the glue that holds us together.

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“We’ve had a few winners around here and it is one of our local tracks. It means everything to us as we want to do her proud.”

Jockey Page Fuller has a long association with the stable and should have ridden Mr Jack, but had been stood down from an earlier fall.

She said: “You couldn’t have written it any better today. She was just a kind and genuine person who was a real horsewoman. She loved her horses and did her best by them.

“She has been struggling for a long time, but fortunately her strength has rubbed off on to everybody else and they showed that by sending out the winners today.

“It has been a great team effort and it is great she has gone out like that. I don’t know anybody who would have a bad word to say about her – she was just one of those really nice people.”

For all the success that Fuller, who joined Davison just before turning professional in 2018, enjoyed with the Sussex handler, it is her association with stable stalwart Finnegan’s Garden she is most proud of.

She said: “Zoe was a real key supporter of mine just as I was turning professional. She has been very influential on my career and many other jockeys.

“We had lots of good days together, but I suppose Finnegan’s Garden is the one we had some of our best days together with.

“We have won six races together around the likes of Plumpton, Lingfield and Fontwell, including a double at Plumpton in April 2019 with Brother Bennett.

“She will be sadly missed by everyone, but I’m sure the team will continue to do her proud.”

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Simon Clare, close friend and part-owner of Brown Bullet, hailed Davison, who sent out her first winner, Sails Legend, at Towcester in November 1997 and enjoyed her best season with 15 winners in the 2017/18 campaign, a “fantastic person and horsewoman”.

He said: “Zoe was just the most wonderful human being imaginable; kind, generous, ludicrously hard-working, single-minded and stubborn when she wanted to be, and the very best fun to be around.

The James Best-ridden Brown Bullet was the first leg of the Zoe Davison team's double at Plumpton
The James Best-ridden Brown Bullet was the first leg of the Zoe Davison team’s double at Plumpton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“What she didn’t know about horses wasn’t worth knowing. She was quite brilliant with them

“It was so desperately unfair for Zoe that after beating breast cancer nearly two decades ago, it returned four and a half years ago.

“The bravery and positivity that she has displayed in her battle against this awful disease has been an inspiration to everyone around her.

“The fact this battle coincided with her most successful period as a racehorse trainer was testimony to her amazing work ethic, and commitment to her horses.

“She was so incredibly well loved and will be desperately missed by everyone who knew her.”

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