TRIBUTES have been paid to an assistant horse trainer in North Yorkshire, who has died at the age of 24.

Sean McGuinness, who was a graduate of the British Horseracing Authority, joined trainer John Quinn as a pupil assistant last March. He had previously ridden as a winning jockey in Ireland and worked in America.

Mr Quinn said Mr McGuinness, who died in his sleep on Tuesday night, had the attitude and talent to go far in his career.

He said: “He was a great fella, a really decent lad with a great work ethic and a real team player, and it’s a fierce tragedy for his family.

“He’d been in great form on Tuesday, working away never complained, and went for a run after tea. We’re very sorry for him, racing aside, he was 24 years old, with his life in front of him. I couldn’t speak highly enough of him as a human being and all the lads felt the same.”

Mr McGuinness was found in his bed this morning, and despite paramedics attempts, could not be revived.

Mr Quinn said his thoughts were with Mr McGuinness’ parents, who live in the Blackpool area.

He said: “It's a tragedy to lose your life like that at only 24-years-old. I broke the news to the lads this morning after first lot and they were all devastated. I feel so sorry for his poor mother and father, especially as he was an only child.”