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Newmarket mourns the loss of racing legend Willie Snaith

Willie Snaith and Frankel (12624738)
Willie Snaith and Frankel (12624738)

The Royal racing colours which he once wore with so much pride will adorn the coffin of Newmarket legend, and former jockey to the Queen, Willie Snaith, when he leaves the town he loved for the last time.

One of the HQ’s best loved characters, Willie died early on Saturday at West Suffolk Hospital. He was 91 and had spent the last few years of his life being cared for in nursing homes, first in Newmarket and most recently in Kentford.

He is survived by his two sons John and Derek, daughter Helen and seven grandchildren.

“He was a legend in his own lifetime,” said John. “He would tell everyone his stories and they all loved to listen. He loved the fact he had a road named after him and was so proud of the MBE he got in 2004 because it was for services to horse racing and the community and he received it from the Queen who he was meeting for the first time since 1954 when he won the Sussex Stakes for her.”

Willie at the NHRM (12624006)
Willie at the NHRM (12624006)

That same year Willie had travelled to America to ride for the monarch in the Washington International.

“Dad being dad wandered out of hotel and got lost,” said John, “he flagged down a policeman on a horse who, on hearing his accent, asked ‘Are you this jockey who has come over to ride for the Queen of England?’ When dad said yes he was given a special escort back to the hotel.”

The funeral service will be at Newmarket’s All Saints’ Church on Wednesday July 3 at noon. “Dad didn’t want anyone to be sad,” said John, “he asked for the men to wear bright ties and the ladies to dress as if they were going to the races.”

You can read the full obituary in this week's Newmarket Journal.