Death of former jockey and trainer Vivian Kennedy at age of 75
Jump jockey Will Kennedy has paid heartfelt tribute to his father Vivian, a former jockey and trainer who died on Tuesday night aged 75.
Vivian Kennedy, who lived on the Curragh, died in hospital in Basildon after spending the Christmas visiting family.
His son, speaking at Ludlow on Wednesday, said: "It all happened a bit quick as he went into hospital a week before Christmas. He's not been a well man for a couple of years on and off with different things. It's still a shock – nothing can prepare you for it – and it's a very sad day.
“He had come over to visit my sister in Essex for Christmas and went into hospital in Basildon. He was 75 on January 6.”
Husband to Kathleen, whom he married in 1964, Kennedy enjoyed many big days in the saddle before turning his hand to training.
Apprenticed to Tommy Burns, Kennedy’s best day as a jockey came when he guided Bigaroon to win the first of his three Irish Cesarewitches at the Curragh in 1970.
He started training in 1983 and enjoyed big-race success when landing the 1986 Kerry National with Flute Player.
However, he suffered a tragic loss just two years later when his son, Vivian jnr, died as a result of a fall at Huntingdon.
Kennedy does not recall much about his father’s riding career but remembers how meticulously he prepared horses as a trainer, and pointed to an ability to ready one for a big day as his main strength.
He said: “He was a very good trainer and knew his horses very well, and was definitely able to get them ready for a particular race.
“I wouldn't have said we were a wealthy family but I never wanted for anything growing up. He was a great man and supporter of mine – obviously he lost a son to the game a long time ago, so me going into it was hard, but he was always there for me to talk about racing."
He added: “The thing I'll miss most is speaking to him literally every day about every ride I had, and it's going to hurt not being able to do that any more. I don't really remember him riding as I was too young but I always respected him as a trainer.”
Kennedy is survived by wife Kathleen, sons Will and Niall, daughters Nichola and Sylvia, and seven grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be known in due course.
Paul Hensey, former Curragh racecourse manager
Very sorry to hear that Vivian Kennedy passed away last night. A great jockey and a shrewd trainer, he was part of the Curragh for as long as I can remember.
Kevin O’Ryan, At The Races presenter
Very sorry to hear of the passing of Vivian Kennedy. Will miss the regular slagging he gave me for years!! Condolences to Kathleen, Niall and @WTKJockey #Gent
Brian Kavanagh, Horse Racing Ireland chief executive
Very sorry to hear of the passing of Vivian Kennedy. A shrewd trainer and a good man to have dealings with. A stalwart of the Curragh. Deepest sympathies to Kathleen and family.