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Friday, 19 October, 2018

Racing photographer Alec Russell dies aged 85

Alec Russell displays some of his work at Jack Berry House in 2015
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Popular racecourse photographer Alec Russell died suddenly at home on Tuesday. He was 85.

Based in Malton, photography was initially his hobby but after doing some work for theatres in York and Scarborough he branched out into racing and made it a full-time career.

He worked for more than 50 years, supplying pictures to most racing publications, including the Racing Post, The Sporting Life, Horse & Hound and Timeform.

Before the digital era he used to send photos of Saturday's racing by British Rail's Red Star service and, like most professional racecourse photographers, knew exactly which chemists he could use to develop film near each of the main tracks.

Although he was a regular at Cheltenham and Aintree, his favourite meetings were the big days at Ayr. He always maintained that the light in the west of Scotland was far superior to other parts of Britain, and for more than 40 years he never missed a Scottish Grand National or Ayr Gold Cup.

Ayr: a popular haunt for Alec Russell

In the past 18 months, following the death of his great friend Tom O'Ryan, he took over the racing column in his local Gazette & Herald, which he wrote right up until he died.

An integral part of Malton's racing community, he was delighted when his daughter Jo was appointed manager of Jack Berry House and will be sadly missed by many in the town.

Funeral details will be announced in due course.

For more than 40 years he never missed a Scottish Grand National or Ayr Gold Cup

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