Eden-born trainer had “burning desire” to win, but was gracious in defeat

Date: Tuesday 13th February 2018
Malcolm Jefferson with Attaglance and Cape Tribulation, both winners at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012.
Malcolm Jefferson with Attaglance and Cape Tribulation, both winners at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012.

TRIBUTES have continued to be paid this week to Skelton-born racehorse trainer Malcolm Jefferson who has died, aged 71.

Malcolm, who enjoyed success at the highest level — including winners at the Cheltenham festival — started his racing career after working on a farm which operated a milk round which delivered to trainer Gordon Richards’s Greystoke stables.

As a youngster he loved horses and when a job came up at Richards’s stables in 1968 he got it.

Not long afterwards, Richards’s head man took ill and the lad who drove the horse box took over. Malcolm did the driving from then on and was travelling head man for the next 13 years.

This was in the era of names such as Jonjo O’Neill, Ron Barry, Titus Oates, Playlord, Grand National winner Lucius and a fledgling Sea Pigeon.

It was while at Grey-stoke that Malcolm also met the girl he was to marry, Sue, who was working as a stable girl. They had four children, Clare, Rachel, Ruth and Jo.

When the time came to leave Greystoke, Malcolm bought Newstead Cottage Stables, Norton, North Yorkshire, and set about adding to the 13 horse boxes there. He brought it up to the standard required to sustain a long and successful career.

After setting up on his own in 1981, he had his first winner with Mark Edelson in a bumper at Perth.

He had his first success at the Cheltenham Festival with Tindari in the Pertemps Hurdle Final in 1994 and the following year he sent out Dato Star to win the Champion Bumper, making him the first British trainer to land the race.

Dato Star went on to prove a top-notch hurdler, with wins in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

In 2012, Malcolm had a Cheltenham Festival double with Cape Tribulation and Attaglance, both of which followed up at the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

Gordon Richards’s son, Nicky, who now trains at Greystoke, said he had known Malcolm for most of his life and recalled going round for tea at his home at Skelton, where he had spent his early years. “He worked hard,” said Richards. “He was always a good, hard working man. He learned a lot at Greystoke and what he learned he took with him when he started his training career at Malton.

“Malcolm did very well and trained some smashing horses for some lovely people.”

He said Malcolm had a “burning desire” to be successful, but was also gracious in defeat and knew the game inside out.

Richards said he “battled on like a lion” despite his illness.

“It’s a great loss to the sport and to everybody that knew him,” he added.

Malcolm’s daughter, Ruth, has taken over the licence at Newstead Cottage Stables, where her father trained for 37 years.

She said what he did was buy inexpensive horses which won races. Not many left him and went to win for other people. “If a horse was capable of winning races, they generally won for him,” said Ruth. “He would never rush a horse and always said ‘let the horse come to you’.”

She said they had some lovely horses at the yard at the moment, including the likes of Cloudy Dream, Mount Mews and Waiting Patiently, and it was a shame he wouldn’t see where they ended up.

“He enjoyed watching Waiting Patiently and Black Ivory win the other week,” she said. “They were his last two winners and he was thrilled.”

Malcolm died surround-ed by his wife, Sue, and four children, following a long battle with cancer.

“We would like to thank everybody for the kindness and support they have given during recent months,” the family said in a statement.