Leading jockeys pay tribute to Michael Curran, rider of Kingman and Golden Horn

Darryll Holland and Robert Havlin have led the tributes to Michael Curran, the work-rider of such luminaries as Kingman and Golden Horn who died last week in Newmarket at the age of 54. 

Curran had known Holland since the star jockey's apprentice days when the pair were based with Barry Hills, and had been living at Holland's yard in Exning. 

Suffolk police have said they believe there are no suspiscious circumstances surrounding Curran's death.

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Speaking from Toronto, Holland said: "I've known Mick for 33 years and he actually drove me to the airport on Sunday. He looked after the stables when I was abroad and I spoke to him Monday like I did most days. But I couldn't get hold of him on Tuesday or Wednesday.

"He was a bit all or nothing and he suffered from depression. People can be a bit deep and don't let it out, and it shows how important it is to talk. 

"I don't think this period of lockdown helped at all. He hadn't been riding out and he wasn't able to come into our house because we have a newborn."

Both Holland and Havlin – who got to know fellow Scot Curran well during a golden period with John Gosden – were keen to remember their friend above all as a fine horseman that trainers entrusted with some of their most important horses. 

"He was a great rider and he just had an affinity with horses," said Holland. "He rode horses like Distant Relative, Handsome Sailor and Strike Force for Barry Hills as well as Kingman and Golden Horn.

"I know John [Gosden] and Rachel [Hood] thought the world of him and so did Barry Hills when he was there. They allowed him to look after these nice horses and they turned out brilliantly. They knew he was very sympathetic if they were nervous. 

"Mick was very laid back and calm, and I think it just rubbed off on these horses."

Havlin said Curran was an extremely popular member of the Clarehaven team during his time with Gosden.

"We all knew him well and he was a popular guy in the yard," said Havlin. "He left us a couple of years ago but he was still in regular contact with a lot of the lads. It's certainly a shock."

Curran enjoyed back-to-back seasons of wonder thanks to Kingman in 2014 and Golden Horn the following year.

Havlin said: "Luck comes into it when you get those horses but at the same time, a lot is expected of these horses and you're putting them in the hands of the lads whoare capable and trustworthy to look after them. It's a great testament to his skills. 

"It was either myself or Mick who rode Kingman all the time. He was a very quiet rider and a great horseman. He'd been in racing for the majority of his life.

"He could be the life and soul of the party but at the same time he could be a deep and a quiet man. He was always very well liked by everybody."