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Grand National jockey dies aged 36 as trainer best friend speaks of ‘tragic’ loss

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Grand National jockey dies aged 36 as trainer friend speaks of ‘tragic’ loss

FORMER Grand National jockey Michael Byrne has sadly died aged just 36.

Byrne raced in the 2014 Grand National on trainer Tim Vaughan’s 66-1 outsider Golan Way.

Former Grand National jockey Michael Byrne has sadly died aged just 36

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Former Grand National jockey Michael Byrne has sadly died aged just 36Credit: Alamy

The horseman was among the 40 runners and riders for the 2014 Grand National on 66-1 chance Golan Way

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The horseman was among the 40 runners and riders for the 2014 Grand National on 66-1 chance Golan WayCredit: Getty

The horse was travelling well until falling in the race won by 25-1 Pineau De Re.

Byrne was best known for riding under Welsh trainer Vaughan – but started out for fellow country Peter Bowen, father of jockeys Sean and James.

It was under Vale of Glamorgan handler Vaughan that Byrne would race as back-up to legendary rider Richard Johnson.

And he had arguably his best season in the saddle in the 2013-14 season when finishing second to Gavin Sheehan in the conditional jockeys’ championship.

Byrne rode 96 winners in Britain in all and amassed more than £589,000 in prize money.

A devastated Vaughan told the Racing Post: “He was a lovely kid from a lovely family and there’s no other word to describe it than tragic.

“”Michael worked for me for a good number of years and had nearly 600 rides and 61 winners for me.

“He was someone who had so much natural ability and a flair for life.

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“He came to me after a few years with Peter and he took off. I put him up and thought he was a very talented lad.

“It’s hit everyone in Welsh racing hard.

“He was very well liked and I truly feel sorry for his poor family.”

Among Byrne’s biggest wins were a Listed mares’ bumper aboard Big Time Billy at Aintree in April 2010.

While he also landed the 2014 Silver Plate at Kempton on Carole’s Destrier and partnered Take The Stand towards the end of the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up’s career.

Byrne stopped racing in Britain in 2016 citing financial issues and went back home to Tipperary to work for his dad Michael Snr.

He also prepared point-to-point horses for Pat Doyle, who added: “Michael was very successful as a jockey and was a brilliant horseman.

“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.”

Vaughan was devastated at the loss of his former rider

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Vaughan was devastated at the loss of his former riderCredit: PA:Empics Sport
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