Grand National trainer dies

RACING enthusiast were saddened to learn of the death of one of Hawick's greatest race horse trainers this week.

Harry Bell, who trained three Scottish Grand National winners inside a decade from his yard near Hawick, has died aged 76.

The crowning moment in his career was with Quick Reply (1972), Sebastian V (1977) and Astral Charmer (1981).

He also trained Rubstic, the only Scottish-trained winner of the Grand National, although the horse had switched to the care of John Leadbetter by the time he won the famous Aintree race in 1979.

Bell's career ended abruptly in 1985 in controversial circumstances, after he was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to one of his horses, and handed a seven-month ban from racing by the Jockey Club. In December 1988, a six-month prison sentence was imposed on the Borders farmer at Jedburgh Sheriff Court after he was convicted of cruelty to animals for the third time in four years, although he denied all charges against him.

But despite the controversy he was a much respected trainer

His son-in-law John Mackie, who trains at Church Broughton, Derbyshire and is married to his daughter, Mary, said: "Harry was a great character and a very good trainer.

"He was gifted and good with horses. He was also a great man to try something different."

Bell is survived by Margaret, Mary, and their sisters Jean and Dorothy, and his widow, Margo, who lives at the family home in Lismore, County Waterford.