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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Death of Racing Post founding chairman Sir Gordon Brunton at 95

Sir Gordon Brunton, pictured at a Racing Post Trophy presentation at Doncaster
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Sir Gordon Brunton, founding chairman of the Racing Post and the owner-breeder of 1991 Ascot Gold Cup winner Indian Queen, has died aged 95.

Brunton, who was awarded his knighthood in 1985, was educated at the London School of Economics and enjoyed a distinguished career in business at the very highest level.

He was chief executive of Thomson Newspapers & International Thomson Organisation Ltd from 1966 to 1984, a period of global expansion and diversification into travel and North Sea oil, as well as a broad range of print and publishing ventures that saw it grow into one of the most influential companies in the world.

A formidable negotiator, he played a leading role in the prolonged print union conflict of The Times and Sunday Times during the late 1970s and early 1980s and refused to allow the shutdown of the less profitable daily paper that some potential purchasers desired. After both titles were sold to Rupert Murdoch he said the negotiations had been so tough that "the walls dripped with blood".

Other influential positions

Brunton held many other influential positions in business and has been credited with stabilising auctioneers Sotheby's after being brought in as chairman at an especially turbulent time. 

He was appointed chairman of the Racing Post in 1985, the year before the newspaper first published, and held that position until he resigned in 1997 after a deal was done to sell the paper to Trinity Mirror.

Brough Scott, who was instrumental in the Racing Post's launch under funding from Sheikh Mohammed, said: "Without Sir Gordon Brunton I doubt the Racing Post would have survived.

"He was quite magnificent and we were incredibly lucky to have someone with his profile in the newspaper world and enthusiasm for racing when we were all so inexperienced.

Indian Queen with Walter Swinburn (noseband) win the 1991 Gold Cup at Ascot

"He was incredibly thorough at our monthly board meetings and he was hugely supportive of myself and the rest of the team. He was good fun too."

Lord Huntingdon, who trained Indian Queen and many others for Brunton, remembers him as "a wonderfully enthusiastic owner and a very honourable man", and recalled he still went to the gym when well into his eighties and attended the races from time to time until last year.

Huntingdon said: "Indian Queen gave us all many magic moments, from winning her maiden at Cagnes-sur-Mer at Sir Gordon's wishes, because he had a house in the south of France, through to her dead-heat in the Prix Royal Oak and finally her Ascot Gold Cup win on her last start when in foal to Night Shift.

The most marvellous man

"Sir Gordon loved his breeding, and did very well despite never spending a lot on nominations."

He added that on hearing the news Chris Johnson, who looked after Indian Queen, remembered Brunton as the most marvellous man to have anything to do with as he treated everyone as an equal.

Brunton's final runner was Munstead Star, a granddaughter of Indian Queen and bred at his North Munstead Stud, near Godalming. The filly was second in a maiden at Leicester last week for Andrew Balding the day before Brunton died.

He is survived by widow Gill and children Mark and Jane. He also had three children from a previous marriage. Funeral details will be announced in due course.


Without Sir Gordon Brunton I doubt the Racing Post would have survived. He was quite magnificent and we were incredibly lucky to have him
E.W. Terms
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