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Guineas-winning jockey Curran dies suddenly, aged 58.

Byline: Tony O'Hehir

GABRIEL CURRAN, who rode Nebbiolo to victory in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 1977, has died suddenly at the age of 58, writes Tony O'Hehir.

Curran, who also won the 1976 Irish 2,000 Guineas on Northern Treasure and the 1981 Irish 1,000 Guineas on Arctique Royale, was found dead at his home in Puckane, County Tipperary early yesterday.

Known to many as 'Squibs', Curran's three Classic winners were trained by Kevin Prendergast, to whom he was apprenticed before becoming stable jockey in the early 1970s.

Prendergast said: "It is a big shock and very sad news. Squibs was a good fellow who was very popular. He was a very good stable jockey. He was very strong and also a very good judge.

"He took over as stable jockey when Laurie Johnson went back to Australia. Laurie more or less groomed him, and afterwards, when Squibs was number one for me, he took Charlie Swan, who was an apprentice here at the time, under his wing."

After his retirement in 1993, Curran later rode work for Swan, who had started training, and in recent years he fulfilled a similar role for Tom Hogan.

Swan said: "It was through Squibs that I went to be apprenticed to Kevin Prendergast.

He was very good to me and it is very sad that he is gone."

Hogan said: "Squibs was part of the furniture in my yard for the past few years. He used to ride out five or six horses most mornings until last Friday. He remained a very good judge and always knew when a horse was spot-on. He had a great sense of humour and we are all going to miss him a lot."

Curran's other wins for Prendergast included the 1976 Gimcrack Stakes on Nebbiolo, the 1976 Pretty Polly Stakes on Lady Singer, the 1982 Phoenix Stakes on Sweet Emma, the Anglesey Stakes in 1972 on Tekoah and the valuable Hennessy Handicap, run at Leopardstown, on Old Oak Tree in 1981 and Salacious in 1983.

He rode the longest-priced winner of an Irish Pattern race when partnering 100-1 shot Miss Therese, trained by Pat Lally, to victory in the Group 2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh in 1973, and also landed two runnings of the Irish Cesarewitch on Polar Fox, trained by Phonsie O'Brien, in 1972 and Ravaro, trained by Joe Crowley, in 1985.

His first winner came aboard Hard Case at Naas in June 1967, and his best season in the saddle was 1976 when he rode 49 winners.

From Kells in County Meath, Curran became apprenticed to Cyril Bryce Smith in 1965 before moving to join Prendergast on the Curragh. He wife Pauline predeceased him but he is is survived by a daughter, Hamara, who works for Derrinstown Stud.

CAPTION(S):

'Squibs' Curran (right) in conversation with Kieren Fallon
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Feb 21, 2008
Words:478
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