'A man for all seasons who had an eye for a bargain'
Colin Russell pays tribute to trainer Alan Swinbank following his death at the age of 72...
Racing in general and northern racing in particular will be all the poorer for the sad loss of Alan Swinbank.
A successful businessman, he became an equally successful trainer of racehorses from his base near the village of Melsonby, a few miles from the A1 in North Yorkshire.
He was a man for all seasons who enjoyed equal success with Flat horses as with jumpers and will be best remembered as the trainer of Collier Hill, who won 15 races around the globe and more than £2.3 million in prize-money.
Cheaply bought, like so many of Swinbank's horses, he started his racing life by winning a northern bumper and then won over hurdles before embarking on his remarkable career on the Flat.
Swinbank was his own man who did things his own way. In one way Collier Hill was an exception for he remained with the trainer throughout his career, but many others were sold on after early wins.
Once a businessman always a businessman, and even if he had just sold one on for a sizeable profit he would always claim that life was "tough".
And indeed it was tough for him after a severe heart attack so nearly claimed his life a few years ago.
He never lost his enthusiasm for winners, and whether it was in a Catterick bumper, a Kelso novice hurdle or a staying handicap on the Tapeta at Newcastle, his horses rarely ran without having some sort of chance.
He may not have been universally popular as he could be hard to please, but Alan Swinbank was a professional to the core, a man who knew his horses inside out and will be sadly missed.