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NZ jockey great Bill Skelton dies

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/11/2016

The New Zealand racing community is mourning the death of one of its greatest jockeys, Bill Skelton, at the age of 85.

Family members confirmed on social media that Skelton died on the West Coast early on Friday morning.

Born into a racing family, Skelton was the oldest of five jockey brothers and went on to become the first Kiwi to ride 2000 winners.

His 2156 winners in New Zealand was a record when he retired in 1977, ending a career spanning nearly 40 years.

A seven-time winner of the New Zealand jockey premiership, Skelton was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame in 2006.

The best horse Skelton rode was Daryl's Joy, winner of the 1969 Victoria Derby and Cox Plate.

Daughter in law Heather Carston paid tribute to the man known affectionately as "Bustling Billy".

"While known as the greatest jockey of the 20th century in New Zealand, he was also a man who never forgot his West Coast roots," she wrote.

"He was one of the humblest men I ever met, with the dry sense of humour all of the brothers were blessed with and someone whom I deeply respected."

Skelton's death comes just three months after that of his younger brother Bob, winner of the 1976 Melbourne Cup on Van Der Hum.

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