Tributes come in to former trainer David Barker

Last Updated: 17/02/14 8:09am

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Richard Fahey was among those to pay tribute following the death of former trainer David Barker on Sunday.

Barker, 44, famed for his handling of sprinters such as Celtic Mill and Sierra Vista, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

Based at Scorton in North Yorkshire, and married to Sam, Barker gave up training to concentrate on fighting his illness but still enjoyed success with runners as an owner.

Celtic Mill and Sierra Vista both won the Temple Stakes at Sandown for Barker, in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Other well-known Barker-trained winners included Mecca's Mate, twice successful in the Listed Land O'Burns Fillies' Stakes at Ayr.

Close friend Fahey trained a number of Barker winners, including the smart Eastern Impact, who was third to the top-class Rizeena in last season's National Stakes at Sandown.

Fahey hailed Barker as a "proper bloke".

He said: "He was a proper bloke, a hard-working grafter.

"Even when he was training himself we used to get on great.

"He was very enthusiastic and a tough guy, he lasted a lot longer than they said he would."

Jockey Tony Hamilton was a regular sight on the Barker horses and he said: "It's a sad loss, he was a pleasure to ride for over the three or four years I rode for him and my thoughts are with his family.

"We had a great partnership and he was just a proper guy.

"I rode plenty of good ones for him, but I suppose horses like Mecca's Mate and Mr Wolf stand out. He used to like his horses ridden forward and he said to ride them like that.

"I remember one day he said to me 'send him, send him and send him again' and the horse won. He knew how he wanted his horses ridden.

"I rode a nice horse for him last year, too, in Eastern Impact. He's a good horse."

Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott tweeted: "Very saddened to hear of the passing of David Barker, honoured to have trained a few winners for him. Thoughts with his family. RIP."

Presenter and racecourse commentator John Hunt said on his Twitter page: "Desperately sad news to hear of the death of David Barker. Big man, big character."

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