Former Lambourn trainer Roger Curtis dies at age of 68
Former trainer and popular Lambourn figure Roger Curtis died on Monday after a prolonged battle with prostate and bone cancer. He was 68.
Curtis, father to leading conditional Ned, who is based with Nicky Henderson, saddled his first winner, Hello Georgie, at Fontwell on September 2, 1986, and saddled 248 winners across both codes – with 183 over jumps and 65 on the Flat.
He is perhaps best known for his association with 1993 Midlands National winner Mister Ed, who ran in two Grand Nationals and won nine of his 37 starts.
Other notable winners include Brave Hussar, winner of the 1987 Glynwed International Chase, and Dontleavethenest, who landed the 1998 Burnt Oak & Special Cargo Novices' Chase and the United House Construction Chase.
Curtis also saddled St Athans Lad to win nine races, all over fences at Fontwell, in the 1992-93 season – which is still a track record.
Ray Goldstein was Curtis's first stable jockey. His sons Jamie and Marc rode for Curtis too.
He said: "Roger was a great boss, more of a friend than a boss. I was 38 when I broke my leg and retired. I rode for him right to the end of my career and he made it a joy.
"He had a great sense of humour. I rode a good horse for him called Flying Ziad, who was a bit of a thinker. When he started winning races, Roger quipped, 'We put blinkers on him and he never looked back'.
"He was very loyal and he used to say Derrick Morris, who was his second jockey, had the best second-jockey post in the country because I was always off injured."
Curtis also saddled Zafisio to win a pair of Group 3s in 2009, the Prix Perth at Saint-Cloud and the Hessen Pokal at Frankfurt, after taking over the horse from his warned-off neighbour Paul Blockley. He also saddled Zafisio to finish second in the Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen – the German 2,000 Guineas – that year at Cologne.
That was a record-breaking season on the Flat for Curtis, who with the boost of the Blockley horses achieved a personal best of 24 winners that year. His most prolific season over jumps was 1996-97, when he saddled 18 winners.
His last winner before retiring was Elegant Olive, at Huntingdon on November 23, 2013. He had moved to Lanzarote to help his son Jos run a restaurant before ill health forced him to return to Britain last autumn. He was later diagnosed with cancer.
Curtis, who represented England as a 3,000m steeplechase runner at junior level and initially worked in advertising in London before moving into bloodstock and then training, is survived by his partner Dawn and three children from his first marriage, Jos, Ned and Capella.
Funeral details will be announced in due course.
ROGER CURTIS CV
Full name Roger Curtis
Born February 10, 1949
Stud owner & manager Eastridge Park Stud, Bolney, West Sussex until 1986
Stables New Lodge, Woodcote, Carshalton, Surrey 1986-88 & 1992-95; Ermyn Lodge, Epsom 1988-92; Delamere Stables, Lambourn 1995-2008 & 2010-14; Hill House, Lambourn 2009
First winner Hello Georgie, Fontwell, September 2, 1986
First Flat winner The Yomper, Doncaster, March 25, 1988
Group winner Zafisio (2009 Prix Perth, Hessen Pokal)
Classic-placed horse Zafisio (2nd, 2009 Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen)
Midlands National winner Mister Ed (1993)
Other notable winners Brave Hussar (1987 Glynwed International Chase), Dontleavethenest (1998 Burnt Oak & Special Cargo Novices' Chase, United House Construction Chase)
Most prolific winner in a season St Athans Lad (9 wins in 1992-93, all over fences at Fontwell)
Last winner Elegant Olive, Huntingdon, November 23, 2013
Most wins in a season 24 in 2009 (Flat), 18 in 1996-97 (jumps)
Total career wins 248 (183 jumps, 65 Flat)
Compiled by John Randall