Welsh Grand National-winning trainer John Spearing dies aged 82
Andrew Thornton was the regular rider of Simon, who won the Sky Bet Chase and Racing Post Chase in 2007 for Spearing in the famous colours of Mercy Rimell has lead the tributes Spearing will also be remembered for training Run And Skip, the 1985 Welsh Grand National winner who famously jumped the second last in the 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup upsides Dawn Run before fading to finish fourth behind the mare in one of the most famous races in turf history. Spearing, who also trained good Flat winners like Rapid Lad, Croeso Croeso and Pintle, suffered life-threatening injuries in a serious accident five years ago. He trained at Kinnersley, made famous by Fred Rimell and the link continued through his wife, Mercy, having horses trained by Spearing. "I last saw John at Worcester in the summer and we had a lovely catch up," said Thornton. "I'd speak to John every now and again on the phone and we always got on great. "He was riding out well into his 70s which sums him up. What a trainer, five furlongs or three and a half miles - it made no difference." Spearing and Thornton struck up a fruitful partnership when they teamed up, with Simon a highlight. "I got on Simon for the first time at Bangor (in April, 2006) and I think it was Scottish National weekend. I'd known Mercy since the 1990s and always got on really well with her," said Thornton. "I started riding a few for John, I'd popped in one morning and it was just a case of right place, right time I suppose. "He was my kind of horse wasn't he, because he wasn't very big! He loved soft ground and he had the odd mistake in him here and there but we clicked. "Bad horses don't win Racing Post Chases and Sky Bet Chases. I actually won the Sky Bet twice, yet I never won a race over fences at Doncaster, they were both at Southwell. "It was a real shame Simon fell when he did when I rode him in the National 2007 as he was still going well and the year after he was nearly favourite, but I broke my collar bone on another horse of John's, Soulard, so couldn't ride him. "John was a very good dual-purpose trainer. He provided me with my 998th winner when Barton Gift won at Bangor, a couple of days later I managed to get my 1,000th and without a doubt I wouldn't have got there without John. "There was one season I had about 20 rides for him and I had eight winners. He was a very good trainer and I'll miss him."
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