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Imperial Call trainer Sutherland dies at 81.

Byline: David Jennings

FERGIE SUTHERLAND, best known for training 1996 Gold Cup hero Imperial Call, has died at the age of 81 following a long illness.

Sutherland was one of the most colourful trainers of his generation and, while Imperial Call was his best horse, he also enjoyed success at Royal Ascot with A.20 in the Queen Mary Stakes in 1958.

Sutherland started his career in racing in 1954 as assistant to Geoffrey Brooke in Newmarket. After three years he set out on his own at Carlburg stables in Newmarket before moving across the Irish Sea to Aghinagh House in Killnardish, County Cork in 1967, where he went on to spend 34 years training.

His first winner was Tribune at Wolverhampton in April 1958, while other big winners on the Flat included Tournella, who won the 1962 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket and Fox King, who landed the 1958 King Coal Handicap.

But it was Imperial Call who propelled Sutherland into the public eye in later years. After winning the Morris Oil Chase at Clonmel in November 1995, he went on to win his first Grade 1 in the following year's Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

At Cheltenham he did not disappoint the huge Irish contingent. Sent off at 9-2, Imperial Call led before the home straight under Conor O'Dwyer and stayed on to see off subsequent Grand National winner Rough Quest and become the first Irish Gold Cup winner since Dawn Run in 1986.

Sutherland took great pride from buying young horses, riding them, educating them, teaching them to jump and then selling them on. That was the process he loved most and he struck up a partnership with Lisselan Farms, who purchased Imperial Call as a three-yearold from Tom Costello. Before embarking on his career with horses, Sutherland was a lieutenant with the 5th Dragoon Guards, but his military career was ended when an explosion blew off his left leg.

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Fergie Sutherland and jockey Conor O'Dwyer with the Queen Mother after Imperial Call's Gold Cup win
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Nov 1, 2012
Words:340
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