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English trainer David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls, famous for his success with sprinters, has died at the age of 61.

A former jockey, Nicholls trained winners of the Nunthorpe Stakes, July Cup, Prix de l’Abbaye and Haydock Sprint Cup, as well as all the major sprint handicaps such as the Ayr Gold Cup.

Nicknamed the ‘Sprint King’, Nicholls has been responsible for such luminaries as Continent, Bahamian Pirate, Regal Parade and Ya Malak, who created his own piece of history when ridden by Nicholls’ wife, Alex Greaves, who became the first female rider to win a Group One race in Britain.

Nicholls began training in 1992 but announced his retirement in March this year, citing financial problems.

Based at Tall Trees Stables near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, Nicholls, who had been battling illness, went out with a winner when stable star Sovereign Debt landed a valuable race in Qatar at the end of February.

“He passed away in his sleep at home this (Sunday) morning. He’d been battling a few problems of late,” his son Adrian said.

“Everybody knows in racing what he did. He was a very good jockey and an even better trainer and probably an even better dad.

“His record speaks for itself. There are a few other people snapping at his heels to take the ‘Sprint King’ title, but they’ll be doing well to do what he did.”

“He won the Epsom Dash five times – I won it for him once (on Rudi’s Pet in 2002). I don’t think there was a sprint he didn’t win.”

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