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Irish racing legend TP Burns fondly remembered after dying at the age of 94

TP Burns, pictured on his 90th birthday, topped the combined Flat and jumps list in Ireland on three occasions
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TP Burns, one of the leading Irish jockeys of the 20th century who achieved both Classic and Cheltenham Festival success, has died aged 94.

Burns enjoyed his greatest days in association with Vincent O'Brien, for whom he rode Ballymoss to win the Irish Derby in 1957.

A few months later he was aboard again when Ballymoss secured an even bigger piece of racing history by becoming the first Irish-trained winner of the St Leger at Doncaster.

Remembering Burns, Charles O’Brien, son of legendary Ballydoyle handler Vincent, said on Monday: “TP was an integral part of Ballydoyle for a large number of years and I know my father had the greatest respect for him and his opinion, and he loved having him around the place.

“He was very level-headed and he said things as they were, which is one of the reasons my father liked him so much.”

The current incumbent at Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien, said: "I didn't know him that well but he was always a real gentleman to meet at the Curragh.

"I used to love talking to him because I felt he was an unbelievably wise man, and he was one of those very special people to encounter. It would always be a privilege to meet him with his son James at the races."

In a career that spanned the best part of four decades Burns proved himself equally adaptable on the level and over jumps, much like his contemporary Martin Molony, who died last July.

Burns was just 14 when he rode his first winner, on Prudent Rose at the Irish Derby meeting in 1938, and secured his first big-race success in the 1941 Irish Cambridgeshire on Mill Boy.

Frank Berry, a ten-time champion jump jockey in Ireland, who is now racing manager for JP McManus, has fond memories of Burns.

Frank Berry: "TP Burns was a man you'd look up to"

He said: “I rode with TP a bit when I was an apprentice and he was a man you’d look up to. He was obviously in the twilight stages of his career when I was an apprentice but he was a fantastic rider who I’d the greatest respect for.

“Hurdles or the Flat, it didn’t make any difference to the man. He was just an exceptional talent and he had a marvellous career – he rode some great horses.”

Berry added: “I'd been a neighbour to TP for over 20 years and he was a great neighbour to have. It’s just very sad to see him passing away.”

Burns rode a number of big-race winners for Paddy Prendergast, including Prominer in the 1964 National Stakes and the same horse in the Player's Navy Cut Trial at Phoenix Park in 1965.

In 1972, and at which time he was in his late-40s, Burns won the Irish St Leger on Pidget for Kevin Prendergast, who described the rider as a great friend.

Prendergast said: "He was a lovely man and a great ambassador for the game. We were very friendly for years and he won the Leger for me aboard Pidget, who wasn’t easy.

“He was a very successful man who also had a lot of success for my father. It’s very sad news, as he was a great friend.”

Dermot Weld echoed such sentiments, the trainer saying: “He was a wonderful man. An assistant trainer to me for a number of years, he was a gifted horseman and a brilliant rider.”

Burns will lie in repose at his Landfall home on Tuesday from 1pm until prayers at 8pm. His funeral mass is on Wednesday at 11am in St Brigid's Church, the Curragh. Burial afterwards in Tynaclash Cemetery, Kiltegan, County Wicklow. Donations, if desired, to the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.


Full name Thomas Pascal Burns

Born April 14, 1924

Father Tommy 'The Scotchman' Burns, champion jockey 1932

Apprenticed to Steve Donoghue, Blewbury

First winner Prudent Rose, Curragh, June 23, 1938

First big-race winner Mill Boy (1941 Irish Cambridgeshire)

British Classic winner Ballymoss (1957 St Leger)

Irish Classic winners Ballymoss (1957 Derby), El Toro (1959 2,000 Guineas), Vimadee (1961 St Leger), Shandon Belle (1962 1,000 Guineas), Paveh (1966 2,000 Guineas), Pidget (1972 St Leger)

Irish Champion Stakes winner Gladness (1957)

Cheltenham Festival winners 9, all for Vincent O'Brien: Lucky Dome (1954 Spa Hurdle), Ahaburn (1955 Birdlip Hurdle) and 7 divisions of Gloucestershire Hurdle on Illyric (1955), Boys Hurrah and Pelargos (1956), Saffron Tartan (1957), Admiral Stuart and Prudent King (1958), York Fair (1959)

Phoenix Stakes winners Gigi (1959), Marble Arch (1972)

Other big-race winners Sadler's Wells (1949 Kerry National), Knock Hard (1950 Irish Lincolnshire), Warrenscourt Lad (1952 Galway Hurdle), Free Model (1955 Pretty Polly Stakes), Beau Chevalet (1956 Whitehall Stakes), El Minzah (1956 National Produce Stakes), Coniston (1961 Carroll Hurdle), Prominer (1964 National Stakes, 1965 Player's Navy Cut Trial)

Won on Arkle Navan, October 9, 1963

Derby runner-up Ballymoss (1957)

Champion Hurdle runner-up Stroller (1955)

Last winner Old Man River, Punchestown, July 7, 1989

Champion jockey (Flat/jumps combined) 3 times: 1954, 1955, 1957

Compiled by John Randall 

Racing pays tribute to much-loved Classic winning jockey and top-class rider over hurdles


He was a wonderful man. An assistant trainer to me for a number of years, he was a gifted horseman and a brilliant rider
E.W. Terms
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