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Newmarket’s racing community in mourning for Jane O’Shea

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Newmarket’s racing community has been shocked by the death of Jane O’Shea, former head lass for Classic winning trainer William Haggas.

Jane, who was 59, died on Sunday at Addenbrooke’s Hospital where she had been in a coma after being found unconscious on the patio of her Newmarket home two weeks previously by her close friend, and neighbour, Claire Ricks. She never regained consciousness.

Claire, who had known Jane for more than 30 years, said: “She was a very good friend and would help anybody out and was a very generous person who loved buying and giving people presents. She was also very stubborn. She had said she had not been feeling well a couple of weeks before she collapsed and we told her she should go and see a doctor but she insisted she was alright.”

Jane O'Shea (34544682)
Jane O'Shea (34544682)

Hailing from Blairgowrie, in Scotland,where her parents ran a hotel, Jane came to Newmarket to work in racing in the late 1970s and made the town her home. She worked for trainer Luca Cumani before a stint with Paul Kelleway, for whom she led up Media Luna, who finished runner-up in the 1984 Oaks at 66-1.

In 1987 she joined William Haggas as he started his training career at Somerville Lodge, in Fordham Road, and later became head girl. She led up 1992 Lincoln winner High Low and four years later celebrated with the team when Shaamit won the Derby.

“Jane was with us when we started and she left in October 2015, only because her husband, Mick, was diagnosed with terminal cancer,” said Mr Haggas.

“She continued to come to Somerville Lodge after his death and helped as a health and safety liaison officer and did a few other menial tasks, which she enjoyed doing. She loved being part of our community.

“Jane was totally dedicated in all aspects of her job here, was loyal, straight, punctual and caring towards others. In her younger days she loved to ride out, but had to stop when her hip caused her too much pain, but she soldiered on as a head lad because she loved it so much. She was a dog lover and a huge border terrier enthusiast and everyone who knew her will miss her very much. She was only 59, a tragedy for someone so young to leave us.”

Jane was also a respected guide for Discover Newmarket and such was her talent for the job she was often requested by visitors making return trips.

“She was an excellent tour guide who entertained and enthused our visitors with her great in-depth knowledge of horseracing,” said manager Tracey Harding.

“With her deep passion and commitment, she was a valuable member of the Discover Newmarket team and will be sorely missed.
“We have lost a true friend and colleague.”

Funeral arrangements have yet to be made and friends hope to hold a celebration of Jane’s life at a later date.