LEADING racehorse trainer and former jockey Dessie Hughes, who rode Davy Lad to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1977, has died after a long illness.
The 71-year-old had been ill for more than a year.
He is survived by his wife Eileen, daughter Sandra and son Richard, the three-time champion flat jockey.
A minute's silence was observed at Punchestown yesterday.
Former Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh was also remembered.
Leading jockey Ruby Walsh paid tribute to Mr Hughes at the course.
"Dessie Hughes was an absolute gentleman and I suppose he was one of the last of the old school Irish jockeys-cum-trainers," he said.
"He was a very good trainer with horses like Hardy Eustace and many great horses, but he was an absolute gentleman and a brilliant family man."
Other tributes came from perennial champion jockey Tony McCoy, who was upset on hearing the news.
"Very sad to hear of the passing of Dessie Hughes, great jockey & trainer and a very proud dad, my thoughts are with Eileen, Sandra & Richard RIP," he tweeted.
Horse owner JP McManus also offered words of condolences to Mr Hughes' family and friends.
"I think it's a sad day," the Limerick man said. "You can feel it the minute you walk into Punchestown."
In his riding days, the Curragh-based Mr Hughes was part of an elite group who won both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup.
His funeral Mass takes place in the Carmelite Church, Kildare, at 1pm tomorrow.