04/13/2010 11:00PM

English rider Starkey dies


Greville Starkey, one of England's leading jockeys in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and eighties, died of cancer at the age of 70 on Tuesday at his home near Newmarket. During his 33-year career, Starkey won five British, two Irish, and two French classics, but was unfortunately best known for finishing second on the hot favorite Dancing Brave in the 1986 Epsom Derby. Starkey was forever accused of waiting too long on Dancing Brave, who lost by a diminishing half-length to Shahrastani.

Starkey had won the 2000 Guineas that year on Dancing Brave, and won the same race aboard To-Agori-Mou in 1981. He landed the English Oaks on Homeward Bound in 1964 and Fair Salinia in his biggest year, 1978, when he rode the same filly to win the Irish Oaks as well as partnering Shirley Heights to win both the Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby. His two French classics both came in the French 2000 Guineas with Recitation in 1981 and Soviet Star in 1987. In 1975 he rode the German-trained Star Appeal to a 119-1 victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the longest winning price in the history of the race.

Late in his career, Starkey was involved in one of racing's most bizarre controversies. In 1988 at Royal Ascot, Starkey appeared to have cinched the King George V Handicap aboard Ile de Chypre. Suddenly, the horse swerved violently left in deep stretch, pitching Starkey to the ground, costing him a sure victory. Later, in an unrelated court case, it was claimed that one James Laming had aimed a makeshift ultrasonic stun gun hidden in his binoculars at Ile de Chypre. That fantastic charge was never proved.