down cross right results icon premium content video video hollow icon audio lifeNews icon-comment tick starFilled betSlip hot icon-liveCommentary refresh spinner arrow-down

Old school gathering as Lambourn bids farewell to famed head lad 'Darkie' Deacon

Darkie Deacon: Irish Imp was the late head lad's favourite horse
1 of 1

St Michaels and All Angels Church in Lambourn was the scene for a poignant trip down memory lane on Friday when a host of the village's great characters turned out to bid farewell to Raymond 'Darkie' Deacon, the celebrated head lad to champion jumps trainer Fulke Walwyn.

Deacon, who died at the age of 90 last month, was famed for his strong hands, knowledge of equine limbs, generosity of wisdom and jet-black hair, hence the nickname.

A keen gardener and exceptional tomato producer, Deacon was remembered at a service conducted by reverend Julie Mintern and attended by an old school gathering of stable staff alumni including Corky Browne, Brian Delaney, Kevin Mooney, Jumbo Heaney, Vince Brooks and Johnny Worrall.

Also present was Deacon's last boss Charlie Mann and retired Cheltenham Festival-winning jockeys Noel Fehily and Tim Mitchell, while Gavin Sheehan joked a whip ban allowed him to pay tribute to a "wonderful man".

Nick Gaselee, Mark Smyly, Henry Ponsonby, Malcolm Kimmins, Peter Hobbs, Simon McNeill, Mark Usher, Steve Taylor and Cath Walwyn were other familiar faces in attendance.

Raymond 'Darkie Deacon' with The Dikler and Charlie Potheen

Deacon's son Nick, a former Sporting Life reporter and Racing Post contributor, gave a touching address, detailing in particular the attention his father paid to 1973 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner The Dikler, while 1972 Hennessy hero Charlie Potheen was another key horse.

"We were enemies back in the day with The Dikler and Pendil – over the wall and all that!" joked Browne, then part of Walwyn's great rival Fred Winter's operation. "But Darkie was definitely a legend."

Mann was in agreement with that description, adding: "When I started it was just me and him. He was a great man with horse's legs and he taught a lot of people – he had a lot of knowledge. He was something else.

"He was the biggest part of my training career and was still riding out 12 years ago, when he was 78."


Get ahead of the game with Get Your Eye In - exclusive Saturday preview content on racingpost.com and the Racing Post mobile app from 2pm on Friday


 

He was the biggest part of my training career and was still riding out 12 years ago, when he was 78
Bookmaker
Price
E.W. Terms
Sporting
BetVictor
Boylesport
888sport