“Very sad news about Campbell Gillies. He was a very good jockey but an even better bloke. All our thoughts are with his family. Rest in peace”.

That was the tribute champion jockey AP McCoy tweeted shortly after the newsflash was released that jockey Campbell Gilles had died in a tragedy in Corfu. That was seven years ago today, still to this day the sorrowfulness of losing such a lovable character is still very raw in the British weighing-room.

The young Scot was a popular figure throughout the sport and famed himself as an enthusiastic hard worker, determined to establish himself as a leading jockey. His demise came just three months after a breakthrough Cheltenham Festival success aboard Brindisi Breeze, the horse having also died in an accident when absconding from his paddock into traffic a month beforehand.

Gillies accomplished 131 winners in his brief career, 50 of them were for trainer Lucinda Russell, there is no questioning Gillies played a pivotal role in the growth of that Scottish stable, he had a bright career in front of him as part of Russell’s rapidly expanding set-up, now the most successful jumping yard in that part of the country.

Shortly after the passing of Gillies, Lucinda Russell made a statement on behalf of her team;

“It was through his innate ability and talent that he reached great heights as a jockey at such an early age.”

Gilles once quoted this poignant message on Lucinda Russell’s website;

“It does not matter what you are going to do, always strive to be the best.”.  

He didn’t say a whole lot in interviews nevertheless what he did say really was really worth heeding.  They say it takes a minute to find something special in a person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them; Rest in peace Campbell.