Borders racing fraternity pays tribute to tragic jockey

LIE FORRIT Ridden by Campbell Gillies wins at Kelso 4/12/11. Photograph: John Grossick
LIE FORRIT Ridden by Campbell Gillies wins at Kelso 4/12/11. Photograph: John Grossick

BORDERERS have been paying tribute to East Lothian jockey Campbell Gillies who died in an accident while on holiday on the Greek island of Corfu earlier this week.

He was just a day away from his 22nd birthday.

Born in Haddington, Gillies attended the British Racing School and became a firm favourite among Borders racegoers while riding regularly at Kelso, where one of his most memorable victories took place last December when steering the Willie Amos-trained Lie Forrit to victory.

Amos told TheSouthern: “It’s a real waste of a life and a great talent. It’s a tragedy, a total tragedy.”

Gillies notched his first win as a 16-year-old over fences at Hexham on the Amos-trained Gunson Hight.

A promising young jockey, Campbell shot to prominence when he rode Brindisi Breeze to victory in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle on Gold Cup day at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

He primarily rode for handler Lucinda Russell, based in Perth and Kinross, after joining her team in 2007.

Marketing manager Louise Grey issued a statement on behalf of Kelso Racecourse in the absence of managing director Richard Landale, who was travelling in the north of Scotland this week and could not be contacted on his mobile.

Ms Grey told us: “It’s such tragic news about Campbell, it is still a bit of a shock to all of us. Richard will be devastated when he hears the news.”

The statement read: “We were deeply shocked and sadden to learn of the tragic news about Campbell. The loss of this hugely talented and charismatic young man will be felt not only in the Borders, but throughout the racing industry.

“Our sincerest thoughts are with all his family and friends at this heartbreaking time.”