Former jockey and racing broadcaster Lord Oaksey dies, aged 83
12:25pm Wednesday 5th September 2012 in By Staff reporter
Lord Oaksey, the former jockey, journalist, broadcaster and founder of the Injured Jockeys Fund, has died, aged 83.
Oaksey passed away on this morning at his family home in Oaksey following a lengthy period of ill health.
Lisa Hancock, chief executive of the IJF, paid tribute to the groundbreaking contribution Oaksey made in establishing the forerunner of the IJF in 1964.
Following the career-ending falls of Tim Brookshaw and Paddy Farrell in the Grand National that year, Oaksey was a key mover in establishing the Brookshaw-Farrell fund to help the injured riders.
That fund eventually became the IJF and the charity has helped more than1,000 riders since those early days.
Hancock said: "It is a sad day for us all here.
"The IJF is probably his greatest legacy and I know that's what Lady Oaksey always said.
"He was very proud of his involvement.
"He was only at Oaksey House with us for a Diamond Jubilee celebration in June and he was on good form that day.
"Unfortunately, he declined over the last three months and he was with Chicky, his wife, and his family when he passed away.
"He started it all at the IJF and obviously he is a great loss for us and the sport.
"He was a fantastic man and we all feel very proud to be part of what he started and to be continuing his work in the future."
Born John Lawrence on March 21, 1929, he was the son of Geoffrey Lawrence, the 1st Baron Oaksey, who officiated at the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War.
Educated at Eton and Yale, Lord Oaksey was an enthusiastic amateur rider and enjoyed considerable success, winning the 1958 Hennessy Gold Cup on Taxidermist and finishing second in the Grand National on Carrickbeg in 1963.
The residential home of Oaksey House in Lambourn was built in his honour for the recuperation of injured jockeys and a statue of him adorns the grounds.
He was a renowned writer for The Daily Telegraph and was a member of ITV Seven from 1969 and, later, Channel 4's racing team. He retired from broadcasting in 1999.
Even in his retirement, Lord Oaksey continued to make an impact in the shape of the steeplechaser Carruthers, whom he bred and named after a story he used to tell in his role as an after-dinner speaker.
Trained by his son-in-law, Mark Bradstock, Carruthers claimed the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, bridging a gap of 53 years after he won it as a rider.
Trainer David Pipe was among the first to tweet his tribute to Oaksey.
He said: "So sorry to hear of the passing of Lord Oaksey who did so much for our sport.
"Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."
Jockey Tom Malone said: "Very sad new about Lord Oaksey but he did some amazing things that will help people for ever more. Thank u."
Former weighing room colleague and now assistant trainer Carl Llewellyn said: "Sorry to hear Lord Oaksey has passed away.
"He was a true gentleman and did a amazing job for the injured jockeys fund. RIP."
Journalist Brough Scott worked with Oaksey for many years on television and is chairman of trustees for the IJF.
He tweeted: "Sad, bad, but 'blessed release' news on John.
"He was my and our greatest friend, a high achiever who thought of others.
"May he inspire."
Channel 4 Racing and At The Races pundit John McCririck was a colleague of Lord Oaksey, and used to refer to him as "My Noble Lord".
"The Noble Lord was the last of the gifted English Corinthians," he said.
"In the top rank of amateur National Hunt riders, he became an evocative wordsmith and a genuinely kind, decent, human being.
"John had a love, enthusiasm and understanding of racing that was inspirational.
"His passing deprives us of a man who gave so much and nurtured the best in mankind while ignoring the worst.
"Whether having the privilege of working with him, knowing him, or even never having any direct contact, we all, in different ways, have lost a dear friend who can never be replaced."
Perennial National Hunt champion jockey Tony McCoy is a vice patron of IJF and he tweeted: "Very sad to hear that Lord John Oaksey former jockey and founder of the Injured Jockeys Fund has died.
"A truly great gentleman. RIP."
Fellow rider Andrew Thornton is one of the many jockeys to have benefited from help and support from the IJF.
Thornton said: "He really has left a legacy.
"What he and Chicky did with the IJF was just fantastic, for people in and out of racing.
"The IJF is invaluable and jockeys, north, south, east and west, come to Oaksey House to use the facilities, as I have done myself.
"What he did in the saddle was brilliant, but he will possibly be remembered more for what he did out of the saddle.
"He was a very selfless man and he and Chicky made a great partnership.
"My condolences are with Chicky and their family at this time."