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World of racing mourns loss of true gent Dessie

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Renowned jockey and trainer, Dessie Hughes, passed away aged 71 on November 16 Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Renowned jockey and trainer, Dessie Hughes, passed away aged 71 on November 16 Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Jockeys standing to observe a minute's silence after the death of Dessie Hughes at Punchestown, Co Kildare. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Jockeys standing to observe a minute's silence after the death of Dessie Hughes at Punchestown, Co Kildare. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Dessie Hughes pictured as a young jockey, second from left.

Dessie Hughes pictured as a young jockey, second from left.

Renowned jockey and trainer, Dessie Hughes, passed away aged 71 on November 16 Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

JOCKEY-turned trainer Dessie Hughes was a "gentleman" who "never lost the common touch," mourners at his funeral were told.

Several well-known faces from the winner's enclosure including trainers Aidan O'Brien, Jonjo O'Neill and Willie Mullins along with former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and former EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy were among hundreds who turned out for the service at the Carmelite Church in Kildare Town.

Dessie was a "gentleman" recalled family friend Fr John Byrne.

"Like everyone involved in his beloved sport, horseracing, disappointments and disasters are inevitable, success is precious when it comes. Dessie knew both and through both remained the same gentleman.

"He talked with the crowds and walked with kings, and never lost the common touch," said Fr Byrne of the 71-year-old trainer, who was orginally from Whitehall in Dublin and had been battling illness for some time.

Chief among the many mourners who filled the pews were his wife and biggest supporter Eileen, daughter Sandra and son Richard, the three-time champion flat jockey.

Sandra thanked staff at St Vincent's Private Hospital for their care and recalled that chief among the core values their beloved father instilled in others was to "be up early, work hard and be kind to others".

Lar Byrne, the owner of Hardy Eustace, with whom Dessie had thrilled the masses with wins at Cheltenham in 2004 and 2005, recalled the joy that the extraordinary horseman had brought to so many and his love of storytelling.

"There are gentlemen and then there is Dessie Hughes," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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