OBITUARY: Paul Smyth's life centred round horse racing - as trainer, owner and bookmaker

Written by Nigel Kerton on .

Paul SmythPaul SmythFormer Epsom racehorse trainer Paul Smyth has died at his Gales Ground, Marlborough, home where he lived with his wife June and brother-in-law Ernie Newell.  He was 79.

A thanksgiving service for his life will be held on Friday, July 22 in St Mary's Church at 12 noon following an earlier private cremation.

Mr Smyth was born into one of Epsom’s most famous families. His father, Victor Smyth, was one of the five sons of an Epsom builder. In the 1920s he was a famous jockey and later as a trainer he won four Champion Hurdles.

Paul Smyth’s maternal grandfather, Harry Escott, was also a leading jockey who became an outstanding trainer of jumpers at Lewes in Sussex. His successes included no fewer than four Grand National winners.

Mr Smyth was also related to the Jennings and the Heads, the famous Anglo-French racing family.

With this background it was hardly surprising that horse racing became Mr Smyth’s consuming interest and his life revolved around the sport as a trainer, racehorse owner and bookmaker.

Paul Smyth was born in Epsom in 1936 and educated at Downsend Preparatory School in Leatherhead and then at Haileybury, where his contemporaries included the playwright Alan Ayckbourne.

After Haileybury Mr Smyth was commissioned into the Cameronians and served most of his National Service in Germany.

On leaving the Army he became assistant trainer to his father for some years and on his father’s retirement took out a trainer’s licence of his own. His first winner was ridden by Lester Piggott.

The recession of 1975 hit him hard leaving him with a depleted yard, so he wound up his business and joined bookmakers Coral, managing betting shops in London and the Home Counties before coming to Wiltshire in 1979.

He then ran several Coral shops in Wiltshire including those in Melksham and Calne before his retirement.

Mr Smyth was twice married. His first marriage producing two daughters was dissolved and in 2000 he married June Newell, who was born and brought up in Marlborough. They initially lived in Silverless Street and latterly in Gales Ground.

They had met through horse racing in 1986 and the sport played an important part in their lives. In recent years the horses they had in training with Stan Moore in Lambourn gave them untold pleasure and some success.

Besides his widow and two daughters, Mr Smyth also leaves three grandchildren and an elder sister, Ann, who lives in Houston, Texas.

Donations in his memory for the Injured Jockeys Fund and Prospect Hospice can be made via funeral director Dianne Mackinder, The Wagon Yard, London Road, Marlborough.