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Michael Byrne dies aged 36 as tributes paid to former Grand National jockey

Members of the horse racing community have been left devastated by the tragic death of former jockey Michael Byrne.

Dozens of tributes have been left to the rider, 36, who competed in the Grand National and took several races at Cheltenham. During his time in Britain, the Irishman had 96 winners, with 61 recorded on Tim Vaughan-trained horses since 2009.

"It is just so sad and I am devastated for Michael's family and friends," said Welsh trainer Vaughan, who provided Byrne's 2014 Aintree ride Golan Way in the edition won by Pineau De Re.

"He was a lovely person – reliable, honest and loyal. He started his career in Peter Bowen's stable and worked for us for about five years. Dicky (Richard) Johnson was our main jockey at the time and Michael was conditional, he rode out his claim here. We enjoyed lots of success together and got on famously well."

Byrne's uncle Pat Doyle, the well-respected trainer who owned the famed Suirview Stables academy, said: "Michael was very successful as a jockey and was a brilliant horseman and it's very, very sad.

"He was a great guy who was involved in horses and into his football. He had three brothers and two sisters and all the family are very close. He was a wonderful young man with a wonderful family around him and he'll be very sadly missed." 

More tributes flooded in, with Diamond Racing posting on social media: "Absolutely devastating to hear of the sad loss of former jockey, Michael Byrne. Condolences to his family and friends."

In 2010, Byrne was in Aintree's winners' enclosure after the Listed mares' bumper, when Bowen-trained Big Time Billy caused an upset at 28-1. 

Michael Byrne pictured with trainer Tim Vaughan© Tim Vaughan
Byrne pictured riding a horse named Koultas King© PA

It rounded off a special day for the handler, as Always Waining galloped to his first Topham Chase title, a race he made his own in subsequent years.

The following month, Byrne was victorious up in Liverpool with 2005 Cheltenham Gold Cup second Take The Stand, just nine days after the pair's triumph on hunter chase night at Prestbury Park. Buck Magic provided another career milestone there, securing a conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle at the 2021 November Meeting. 

The thoroughbred's trainer Neil Mulholland said: "Michael will be sadly missed, he was a lovely fella and used to ride out here. A lot of my staff worked with him and they have been affected by the news. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends."

Byrne retired in 2016 and returned home to Ireland, where he prepared horses for the sales.

Four-time champion jockey Johnson said on X: "So sad to hear news of the loss of Michael Byrne. My thoughts are with his family RIP."

A spokesperson from the Amateur Jockeys Association of Great Britain added: "Heartbreaking news. We send our deepest condolences to the family and many friends of former @amajox @QrIrish Michael Byrne. May he Rest In Peace."

The tragedy comes just a month after another jockey, Stefano Cherchi, died after a mid-race accident in Australia. He was seriously injured in a fall at Canberra racecourse and died in hospital two weeks later on April 3, at the age of 23. 

Story by Melissa Jones: Mirror: 

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