John Oaksey: one of racing's most popular figures passed away aged 83PICTURE: Jay Vincent
Racing legend John Oaksey dies aged 83
JOHN OAKSEY, one of racing's most revered figures, died peacefully at home on Wednesday morning following a long illness.
Lord Oaksey, who was 83, earned a special place in the hearts of racing fans during a life in which he triumphed as a jockey, journalist, author, broadcaster and tireless charity worker.
Oaksey's greatest legacy is the Injured Jockeys Fund, which he helped to create following injuries incurred by Paddy Farrell in the 1964 Grand National.
As a rider himself, Oaksey - then known as John Lawrence - enjoyed many notable successes, particularly in 1958, during which he won the Imperial Cup on Flaming East, the Whitbread Gold Cup on Taxidermist and the inaugural Hennessy Gold Cup, then run at Cheltenham, on the same horse.
Oaksey also suffered an agonising defeat on Carrickbeg in the 1963 Grand National.
He told the story of that defeat in his own words as a journalist, an art in which he excelled with his account of Fred Winter's Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris triumph on Mandarin becoming as iconic as the victory itself.
Through his work for ITV and Channel 4, Oaksey endeared himself to television viewers, while his popularity and good deeds were recognised in 1985 when he was awarded an OBE. The IJF further honoured him by naming its Lambourn housing project Oaksey House.
More recently, Oaksey - who continued to be a regular presence on racecourses selling IJF Christmas cards alongside wife Chicky - had been cheered by the exploits of his homebred chaser Carruthers, who recorded an emotional win in last year's Hennessy Gold Cup.