Royal Ascot horse trainer loses cancer battle
Royal-Ascot winning horse-racing trainer John Akehurst has died after a long battle with cancer.
Mr Akehurst, the son of famous trainer Reg Akehurst, died at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton on March 14, aged 51.
One of Epsom's leading horse-racing trainer, he worked at Clear Height Stables in Derby Stables Road.
Having started out in racing with Fulke Walwyn before joining Stan Mellor, Mr Akehurst later became assistant to his father in Epsom, during which time he rode one winner as an amateur rider.
Mr Akehurst later moved to Lambourn before returning to Epsom where he took over from his father on his retirement.
He was a successful trainer, sending out Capricho to win the Royal Ascot Wokingham Stakes in 2002 as well as registering notable victories with the likes of Marsad and Mac Love.
Fellow Epsom trainer Simon Dow paid tribute to his courage in his fight against cancer: "He did amazingly to hang on so long. He was a very brave man."
Caroline Baldock, of the Epsom Equestrian Conservation Group, said: "I had known John since 1977 and was enormously fond of him. He was extraordinary, very kind and generous. He would do anything for you. If he liked you he was one of the best friends you could have.
"I would like him to be remembered as a good trainer who had some very difficult horses to train and did very well with them."
Lee Carter, who has worked with the Akehurst family on and off for 25 years, has now taken over as trainer at Clear Height Stables.
He said: "I am very pleased to be carrying on the business for John, but would have preferred it not to have been under these circumstances.
"I would like John to be remembered as an extremely nice man.
"He was a very good boss to work for and very well-respected in racing and in Epsom."
Stephanie Potts, Mr Akehurst’s Secretary of three years, added: "John was a lovely person who was very highly respected. He was one of the best bosses you could find. He was very much a people person and was easy to talk to. I hope he will be remembered for his racing success.
"Lee had his first winning runner as a trainer about an hour after John passed away which was very poignant."
He is survived by his daughters Millie and Sophie.
Mr Akehurst's funeral will be held on Friday, March 30, at Randalls Park Crematorium, Leatherhead, at 4.15pm.