Jimmy Elidrissi: Five-time champion stable trainer dies at 74

Image copyright BBC Image caption Jimmy Elidrissi was one of only two trainers to train five trainers in a five-year period Five-time champion Flat trainer Jimmy Elidrissi has died aged 74. The Scottish-born trainer…

Jimmy Elidrissi: Five-time champion stable trainer dies at 74

Image copyright BBC Image caption Jimmy Elidrissi was one of only two trainers to train five trainers in a five-year period

Five-time champion Flat trainer Jimmy Elidrissi has died aged 74.

The Scottish-born trainer was well known for his international standing, having been part of the fearsome Martin Scott stable of Micky Quinn, Sir Frank Richardson and Bill Wight before moving to his own stable in the 1970s.

But it was his small but memorable Highland Lodge Stud in Cumbernauld that remains at the centre of a cluster of fascinating Scottish racing tales.

It began life as a grasslands stud, developed into a breeding base and after purchase in 1998 by Jimmy Elidrissi’s son William – who remains at the helm – it gained popularity as one of the most exciting and prestigious winter yards in England.

He was one of only two trainers to train five trainers in a five-year period, (the other, in the late 70s, was Sir Frank Richardson), and in the late 1970s and early 1980s his Highland Lodge subsidiary became a staging post for the 1990s’ multi-million pound international miler Piniots Bay.

That is one of many examples of trainers coming to Scotland through the Elidrissi yards.

Sport Scotland, local historian-writer Alan Mearns told the Evening Times: “I’ll be surprised if some of the trainers have never heard of it. They must have thought of it as their yard.

“The yard became a destination of choice, as the other leading yards were up north. Highland Lodge was ideal for the mares.”

Born in Glasgow on 18 March, 1938, to John and Josephine Elidrissi, he enjoyed his early years as a professional racing jockey on the Edinburgh City Circuit with trainers such as Toby Twelfth and Niffenegger.

Image copyright BBC Image caption At one time Highland Lodge was home to Piniots Bay, the 1990s international miler

He bought the small farm in the late 1960s and was making inroads as a trainer when his friend and now prime minister, Gordon Brown, put out a call in the 1970s for a small Scottish trainer to take over a trainer’s stable at Faslane.

Harris won the job and by taking over the yard he was to unite with his friend, Martin Quinn, who would later go on to forge a career with a succession of formidable stable staff.

Elidrissi described as one of the most “bubbly” boys in the yard that “the partnership became a partnership”.

His galloping, jumping and classical brawn was used by Quinn when he developed his stables, with Elidrissi gaining the prized but rare role of postman.

“You used to get a note from Brian Curtis on the Davies track and the message would tell you where to send stuff,” says Quinn.

“It would always say if you need a pigeon or a crocus or whatever – you would get it, and you never had to have it in a bag, you would pick it up yourself. He was fantastic with us and we were lucky to have him as a colleague.”

Added Quinn: “We were close for nearly 30 years. He never had an enemy on the racecourse, we were friends, and that had been our experience with a lot of the trainers we had. They loved him.”

Jimmy Elidrissi had an interest in both short and long distances racing and, in keeping with the motto of his stable, he was one of the great supporters of English horses and Thoroughbreds.

Now, we at BBC Sport Scotland feel it would be a fitting tribute to pay him our Best and Brightest award next year.

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