Jockeys wore black armbands on Saturday while Haydock’s evening meeting was a fitting tribute to Yarborough who was tragically killed at the course on Friday
JOCKEYS, trainers, racegoers, stewards, groundstaff and stalls handlers united as one at racecourses across England to honour the memory of ‘unsung hero’ Stephen Yarborough.
Flags were flown at half-mast and jockeys wore black armbands as the racing family paid tribute to a man BHA chief Nick Rust has called ‘one of our own’.
The emotionally-charged scenes were particularly poignant at Haydock last night where Yarbie – as the 60-year-old was known to friends and Racetech colleagues – was tragically killed on Friday when he was reportedly run over by the stalls as they were being moved by tractor.
However the course, after consultation with Yarborough’s family, stalls handlers and British racing chiefs – were determined to race again last night and dedicate the evening to his memory.
RACING IN SHOCK
Stalls handler Stephen Yarborough dies after accident with starting stalls at Haydock
The mood was understandably sombre but the meeting was a fitting tribute to Yarborough, with a moving minute’s applause before last night’s first race.
Haydock general manager Jason Fildes said: “We felt it was important racing went ahead for us to pay our respect to Steve.
“There was a clear feeling that, having abandoned Friday’s card, this meeting should be dedicated to Steve.
“There has been real sadness among the whole team at Haydock. We all wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his family, his colleagues and all who knew him.”
Yorkshireman Yarborough was a hugely experienced and popular member of the Racetech team.
He was a widower with two children and had been a stalls handler for 30 years.
On the day of the tragedy, he was the team leader at the stalls.
A fund set up to raise £1,000 for Yarborough’s family was last night nearing £7,000 with donations at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andrew-smith.
Top jockey and Sunracing columnist Jamie Spencer said: “The stalls teams are the unsung heroes. They do a very dangerous job. Rest in peace, Stephen Yarborough.”
And veteran rider Franny Norton added: “The guys put their lives on the line for us every day. They never get enough credit. It’s so sad, a real tragedy.
“I’ve needed the stalls guys on numerous occasions and they always dive in to help without a thought for themselves.
“You know you are in safe hands. You can only send your condolences.”
The BHA’s Rust described himself as ‘shocked and saddened’ by the horrific incident.
He said: “Stalls handlers carry out a brave and important job each day looking after the safety of the horses and riders. We are grateful for their work.
“Racing has come together in grief. We are a family and we have lost one of our own.”
Merseyside Police said an investigation into the circumstances of the death will be carried out by detectives and the Health and Safety Executive.