Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to former horse trainer and renowned gambler Barney Curley

Barney Curley passed away on Sunday

FORMER horse trainer Barney Curley has been described as "one of racing's great characters", following his death aged 81.

Tributes were paid to Mr Curley, who passed away on Sunday following a cancer diagnosis.

Born in Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh, he became a successful horse trainer and was famed for his betting coup involving the horse Yellow Sam in 1975.

As a trainer, he was instrumental in the early careers of jockeys such as Frankie Dettori and Jamie Spencer.

He was also famed for the work he did for his charity, Direct Aid For Africa, which he founded in 1996 following the death of his 18-year-old son Charlie.

Trainer John Butler, who spent several years as assistant to Mr Curley, said his former boss had died after a cancer diagnosis.

"He died very peacefully... on Sunday," he said.

"You could spend all night talking about him.

"He was very good to me - he was just one of those people."

Twenty-time champion jockey AP McCoy said he was "very sad to hear that Barney Curley has passed away".

"Feel lucky to have enjoyed his company a man with well founded legendary status as a trainer/gambler, but one who also raised lots for the charity Direct Aid for Africa," he wrote on social media.

Jonjo O'Neill, Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer, said Mr Curley was "one of racing's great characters".

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