Fran pays tribute to Flood
Former champion jockey Frank Berry yesterday led tributes to the popular Gold Cup winning trainer Francis Flood who passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Berry, who is now racing manager to JP McManus, rode Glencarrig Lady for Flood to win the 1972 Cheltenham Gold Cup and had a long association with the County Wicklow-based trainer.
"It's very sad to hear of the news of his passing. I rode for him for 18 years. He started me off when I came out of my apprenticeship.
"We got on great and had some great times together. He was a marvellous man and it's just a sad time. Our sympathies are with all the family.
"Winning on Glencaraig Lady was great for me. It was my first ride at Cheltenham as well. It was a huge occasion. We had a lot of good years together. He was a wonderful man to ride for and he was just a nice man."
Flood, who has been assisted by his son Fran for a number of years, sent out his last runner, Buachaill Maith, at Cork on Sunday and his final winner as a trainer in a career that also featured two Irish Grand Nationals was in August, when the same horse won at Ballinrobe.
Flood jnr said yesterday: "He was a great man to me, a great man to the family and a great man to racing. He passed away peacefully at 4am.
"He loved racing all the way through to the end. From riding to training, he was always up for it and absolutely loved the game.
"I haven't switched the training licence or anything like that just yet, but I plan to keep the yard going.
"He will be sadly missed by us all."
Irish 1,000 Guineas winning-trainer Adrian Keatley would have grown up in the same locality as the Flood family and was introduced to racing in his teenage years by Francis.
"The Floods have been neighbours of mine for a long time and I learnt pretty much everything I know about racing from them," he said.
"I started riding out there when I was 13, Francis was still riding out at that time.
"I worked there for many years and rode for them as an amateur in point-to-points and things like that.
"It's very sad to see a legend like him pass away and my condolences are with his family."
Meanwhile, trainer Dermot Weld expects to reveal plans for his leading colts, Harzand and Fascinating Rock, later this week or early next week.
The Curragh-based handler was forced to withdraw Fascinating Rock from his defence of the English Champion Stakes on Saturday, while dual Derby winner, Harzand, finished ninth on his most recent outing in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly earlier this month.
"There is no news at the moment. No decision has been made on the future of either horse, but I would say a decision is imminent."