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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Ex-trainer 'Duke' Nicholson dies
David Nicholson
Nicholson was also a successful jockey with more than 600 winners
Legendary former jumps trainer David Nicholson has died at the age of 67.

The two-time champion trainer, fondly nicknamed 'The Duke', retired in 1999, having taken out his first training licence in 1968.

Among his high-profile winners were Charter Party in the 1988 Cheltenham Gold Cup and Barton Bank in the 1993 King George VI Chase.

Based at Jackdaws Castle, Nicholson was champion trainer in 1993-94 and retained his title the next season.

His nephew, Newmarket trainer James Fanshawe, said: "He had been having problems with his chest and died on the way back from hospital.

"He had a real passion for racing and was very good to a lot of people, including me."

It's hard to put into words how much I owed him as far as my career was concerned

Richard Dunwoody

Nicholson was also a successful jockey, riding more than 600 winners in a career that stretched from 1951 to 1972.

He began as an apprentice to his father Frenchie and rode his first winner in his first ride at Chepstow in 1955.

His big wins included the 1968 Whitbread Gold Cup on Arkle's great rival Mill House while his best season in the saddle was in 1966/67 when he had 63 winners.

Taking out a training licence in 1969, his first success was at Warwick with Arctic Coral and he went on to train almost 1,500 winners.

Aside from Charter Party and Barton Bank, his other great horses included Viking Flagship who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1994 and 1995, and 1998 Arkle winner Waterloo Boy.

He also trained Moorcroft Boy, who was third in the 1994 Grand National and won the Scottish equivalent two years later, despite having suffered a life-threatening fall in the meantime.

He was one of the great characters of the game

John McCririck

Famed for wearing an old sheepskin coat, Nicholson's base was Jackdaws Castle, which now houses the yard of current jumps trainer Jonjo O'Neill.

After retiring as a trainer, Nicholson was still a familiar figure on British racecourses and was appointed a British Horseracing Board bloodstock representative in March 2002, which involved promoting British-bred horses around the world.

Ex-champion rider Richard Dunwoody, who was a stable jockey to Nicholson paid tribute to his former boss.

"I was with him for seven seasons in the 1980s and was champion jockey for one of those," said Dunwoody, whose first big win was aboard Nicholson's Very Promising in the 1985 Mackeson Gold Cup.

"He was a fantastic boss and it's hard to put into words how much I owed him as far as my career was concerned."

Current jockey Richard Johnson, who rode a lot for Nicholson in the early part of his career, said: "He provided the best support I ever had when I was starting out. He was second to none for giving advice and was fantastic to work for."

Racing pundit John McCririck added: "He was one of the great characters of the game who very much embodied the "old way" and we can't afford to lose people like him."

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