“Top man who trained some great winners” – Tributes pour in following the death of trainer John Spearing at the age of 82 after a long illness.
His daughter Teresa announced his passing on Friday, saying, “Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 and passed away yesterday, it was very peaceful. He received excellent care in the Lawns Nursing Home in Kempsey.”
John Spearing had won over 800 races on the Flat and over jumps throughout his career. He was a successful trainer, notably with Run And Skip who landed the Welsh National and Anthony Mildmay, Peter Cazalet Memorial Chase, and was fourth behind Dawn Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986.
Peter Scudamore, who rode Run And Skip, expressed his admiration for Spearing, stating, “I had the privilege of riding Run And Skip, who wasn’t easy to train. John was a very hands-on trainer and a good feeder of horses, and I had the greatest respect for him.” Andrew Thornton, who rode Simon to his greatest wins, said, “John was straight down the line… His horses were always fit and if he said they had a chance, they certainly did — whether it was five furlongs or three and a half miles.”
Fellow trainer and old friend David Evans shared, “I got on well with him and I used to use his gallop when I was at Annabel King’s in the 1980s. He was a very good trainer from limited opportunities. He kept himself to himself, if he had one lined up no-one would know about it.”
Spearing’s achievements were not limited to jumps racing. He also had success on the flat with horses such as Listed winners Vax Lady, Vax Star, Croeso Croeso, and Pintle plus Rapid Lad, who won an impressive 12 times at Beverley.
The trainer was brought up on the outskirts of Moreton-In-Marsh (on land his brother David still farms) and took out a permit in 1965. He gained his full license after being asked to train Glendale, who he won 13 races with, and spent the last three decades of his career based at the Rimell family’s stronghold of Kinnersley Stables in Worcestershire.
Danny Bleu was Spearing’s final winner as a trainer at Chepstow. The Kinnersley Partnership colours were carried to victory in March by Shutthegate, who moved to Henry Oliver after Spearing handed in his license. The trainer said of Spearing, “John was a great trainer and he was very good to me in my riding career. He lived and breathed racing — that was his life. When I was champion conditional, John picked up my trophy as I was riding at Market Rasen. I was winding him up telling him there was no cheque for doing that! John was really good fun and a top man who trained some great winners.”
Sally Iggulden, chief executive of Beverley Racecourse, paid tribute to Rapid Lad, who Spearing trained and won 12 times at the course, stating, “Rapid Lad used to detach himself round the bottom bend and get miles back then absolutely fly up the home straight; he loved the uphill finish here. People still talk about Rapid Lad now; we have a bar named after him, and John was really proud of that.”
Spearing’s legacy will continue at Beverley with the annual Rapid Lad Handicap on April 27, which will commemorate his track specialist. The racing world mourns the loss of one of its greats, but John Spearing will always be remembered as a talented and dedicated trainer who made his mark in the sport.