© Photo Healy Racing
Chester Barnes, former assistant to training great Martin Pipe, has died at the age of 74.
Barnes, who first made his name as the world’s number one table tennis player, formed a famous partnership with Pipe during the 1990s when the record-breaking trainer was in his pomp.
His death was announced on the day of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with the Festival — scene of so many of his and Pipe’s great successes — the focus of the racing world.
Pipe’s son David, himself a hugely successful trainer since succeeding his father at Pond House, paid tribute to Barnes — who was renowned as an engaging and entertaining personality.
Pipe wrote on Twitter: “Extremely saddened by the passing of Chester Barnes. A wonderful character, he was never short of a laugh or a joke.
“We enjoyed so many memorable times, and he will be missed by everyone at Pond house. Our love and thoughts are with his family.”
Sir Anthony McCoy, who rode many of the winners which helped him become 20-time champion jockey, also remembered Barnes fondly.
“It’s very sad news,” he said on ITV, recalling his own exchanges with Barnes on the ‘Pipeline’ — a telephone service on which the latest news from the stable used to appear.
“I obviously spoke to him nearly every morning,” McCoy added.
“Martin Pipe did the ‘Pipeline’ then, and I used to try to give them a few winners every day and spoke to Chester.
“My thoughts go out to his wife Jane and son Chester.”