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Obituary: 'Mad about whole game' Lord Swaythling, founder BHB member and successful owner, dies at 69.

LORD SWAYTHLING, a founder member of the British Horseracing Board and a racehorse owner and breeder for over 40 years, yesterday lost a lengthy battle against leukaemia when he died aged 69.

A workaholic businessmen who made his name in banking and tobacco, he passed away at his home in London just three days before Saturday's Coral- Eclipse Stakes in which Taipan, the best horse he owned, is among the possible contenders.

With an involvement in racing stretching back to 1956, his colours were carried to victory over 200 times, notably by such as Grand National runner- up Zongalero and Group 1 winner Orchestra Stall.

Describing himself as "the luckiest man I know in business", he was to become chairman of Rothma0ns International in 1987 and was due to retire this August, but he was forced to stand down through ill health in April.

Indeed, he had been in ill health for the last two or three years, though he continued to pursue his business and racing interests regardless.

Lord Hartington, the BHB's first chairman, led the tributes to Swaythling with a wish that there were "more people about like him".

As he mourned the death of a fellow founding member of the BHB, he said: "He'll be terribly much missed.

"I found him a really ideal member of the BHB. He had a great deal of experience of the real world and an absolute love of the horse and horseracing.

"He had so much common sense and a sense of humour which combined to give him the perfect CV for the BHB.

"He wasn't very well even when he started at the BHB but he treated his illness with complete disdain. He was determined to get on with things.

"He gave a lot of time to it and I wish there were more people like him about."

John Dunlop was responsible for many of Swaythling's Flat-race successes.

"He had his first horse with me in the late 1960s and he has been the most marvellous friend and patron for 30 years," said Dunlop.

"He had been ill for the last two or three years and had to have repeated blood transfusions, and sadly his health declined rapidly over the last two or three weeks.

"He was a great friend, a great support to one and a great support to one's children and in many ways I shall sadly miss him.

"He was a very wise man, too. You could turn to him for advice and he was wonderfully perceptive."

Arguably the best known of Swaythling's horses was Zongalero, who failed by a length and a half to win the 1979 Grand National.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "He was the man who got me going-he was my first proper owner and we had some wonderful times together.

"He was a great man, he adored his racing, even up until recently. He was a great administrator and he was mad about the whole game.

"Zongalero was virtually the first horse I was asked to train and finished second in the National in my first season.

"I can't think why he picked me out as a rookie trainer, but we will miss him and racing will miss him."

BHB chief executive Tristram Ricketts said: "As one of the founder directors of the BHB, David brought to the table a wealth of business experience, which combined so effectively with his love and knowledge of racing and his determination to do what was best for the industry as a whole.

"As chairman of the Finance Committee he oversaw the streamlining of racing's central administrative budget and, as a nominee of the Industry Committee, ensured the voice of the smaller associations was always heard.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to his family."


Full name: David Charles Samuel Montagu, 4th Baron Swaythling

Born: London, August 6, 1928

Parents: Stuart Albert Samuel Montagu, 3rd Baron Swaythling, and Mary Violet Levy

Educated: Eton; Trinity College, Cambridge (Honours degree in English Literature

Married: 1951 Christiane Francois (Ninette) Dreyfus, Lady Swaythling

Business career: Chairman of Rothmans International until retired through ill health in April; Director and later Chairman and Chief Executive of Samuel Montagu & Company Ltd from 1954-73; Chairman and Chief Executive of Orion Bank Ltd from 1974-79; Director and later Deputy Chairman of J Rothschild Holdings plc from 1981-87; Non-executive Director of the Telegraph; Member of the Board of Banking Supervision of the Bank Of England; Director of London Weekend Television for 21 years. Served on board of many banks, industrial companies and investment trusts and for 16 years UK representative on the Investment Committee of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and Superannuation Fund and latterly deputy chairman until he resigned at end of 1987.

Racing interests: Racehorse owner and breeder since 1956. Acted as local steward. Member of Tote Board 1981-93. Founder member of British Horseracing Board as Industry Committee nominee until 1997 and Chairman of BHB Finance Comittee.

Best horses owned: Apostle (Jockey Club Stakes, second in Great Voltigeur), Osier (winner of the November Handicap), Zongalero (second in the Grand National and Hennessy Gold Cup, winner of Mandarin Chase), St Mawes (winner of the Gordon Stakes), Taipan (winner of Group 1s in Cologne and Rome), half-share in Orchestra Stall (winner of Sagaro Stakes, Curragh Cup and Prix Gladiateur), part owner of Flying Brave (winner of German 2,000 Guineas, Tattersalls Tiffany Highflyer Stakes).

Other offices held: Director of Chelsfield plc and Chairman of the Gilbert Collection to be installed in Somerset House. Also involved in many charities.

Compiled by JON LEES
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Lees, Jon; Goff, Tom
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 2, 1998
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