Everyone involved with Team Ditcheat has been hit hard by the death of my close friend Andy Stewart on Friday.
He was a brilliant owner with us for twenty years, a huge supporter of the yard and always generous to the staff whenever he had a winner.
Andy quickly became a good mate and we shared so much success together at the highest level. You couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic owner and my life will not be the same without him. He was tremendously loyal, had a heart of gold and I was blessed to train for him. He was a great and kind man and we spoke virtually every day for twenty years until he suffered an accident at his holiday home in Barbados six weeks ago.
Andy loved jump racing with a passion and was proud of making his wealth in the City after being expelled from school. That enabled him to get seriously involved as a racehorse owner.
The first horse he sent me was Cenkos who won at Warwick less than a fortnight later in May, 2001. In the two decades that followed we won over 200 races for Andy and his family and over £5 million in prize money.
At one point he had twenty five horses with me and he enjoyed going to Newton Abbot for a Novice Chase every bit as much as having runners at Cheltenham. Quite simply he loved the game .
When we last met for lunch in Brighton at the end of June he was full of enthusiasm as we went through the list of his horses for the current season that he owned with his family. I felt they were as good a group as we had ever put together and it is so sad that he will not now get the chance to see them run.
Celestial Halo was a top hurdler in Andy’s colours, winning the Triumph Hurdle in 2008 before failing by a neck to beat Punjabi in the Champion Hurdle a year later and then finishing runner up in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. He also won a Grade 2 race at Auteuil at the age of nine.
But Andy will rightly be remembered best for owning the superstar Big Buck’s who landed the Ladbrokes World Hurdle four years in succession. Big Buck’s was so talented that he ran up a sequence of eighteen consecutive wins over hurdles and Andy enjoyed every one of them. He put so much into the sport over the years and it was fitting that he owned such an amazing champion.
Our thoughts are with Judy Mark and Paul . RIP my friend .