Trainers Mick Channon and Ian Williams have paid tribute to prominent owner Noel Martin following his death on Tuesday at the age of 60.
Born in Jamaica and raised in Birmingham, Martin was left paralysed following a neo-Nazi attack in Germany in 1996. He was working as a plasterer in the Brandenburg region when a rock was thrown at his car, causing him to crash into a tree.
As well as setting up and being involved in charities and foundations which campaigned against racial intolerance, Martin also returned to Germany in 2001 to lead an anti-racist demonstration.
Martin was perhaps best known in racing circles as the owner of top-class filly Jacqueline Quest, named after his late wife following her death from cancer in 2000.
Trained by Sir Henry Cecil, Jacqueline Quest passed the post in front in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2010, only to be demoted to second place for causing interference to eventual winner Special Duty.
Martin took the reverse with dignity, saying in the winner’s enclosure afterwards: “They took the race away from me. She is still Jacqueline Quest and they cannot take that away from me.
“I have not seen a race taken away in British horseracing since God knows when, but I have been through a lot of bad luck so it is not a problem.”
Williams had enjoyed better fortune on the racecourse four years earlier, with Mick Channon saddling Baddam to win both the Ascot Stakes and the Queen Alexandra in the space of five days at Royal Ascot.
Channon told PA on Wednesday: “We had that brilliant week together at Royal Ascot – I don’t think Noel could believe it, to be honest.
“We had a couple of great nights in the car park with all his friends, it was brilliant.
“For him to come through what he went through showed a lot of character.”
Both Jacqueline Quest and Baddam went on to be trained in Alvechurch by Ian Williams, who said: “We had some great times together. Noel was a good friend and someone whose company I enjoyed immensely.
“I admired and respected the way he took the defeat in the Guineas – that was a mark of the gentleman he was.
“Despite the unfortunate position he was in, Noel always had a smile on his face. Every time you thought you were having a bad day, you only had to think of Noel and how happy he was just to be alive.
“I’ll miss him greatly.”