TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the best known trainers in the Malton area.

Bill Elsey died last Wednesday at the age of 97.

Born Charles William Carlton Elsey, in Ayr, Scotland, but always known as Bill, he took over the licence at Highfield Stables in Norton from his father, Charles, in 1961, becoming the third generation of his family to train.

Bill went on to win the Oaks at Epsom with Pia in 1967 and the St Leger at Doncaster with Peleid in 1973. Other big race victories followed in the Lockinge Stakes and St James’s Palace Stakes, while he twice won the Ebor and Lincoln Handicaps, including the latter, with K Battery, in 1986. He retired from training in 1996.

Bill’s wife Susie, who he was married to for nearly 50 years, said they had met on a skiing holiday. “I came from a rural background but not a racing one and I quickly learned all about the industry and the amazing highs when we had a big win and the lows when we didn’t,” she said.

“Racing is very much a way of life as they are there 24 hours a day and staff become like family especially as we work unsocial hours.”

Mrs Elsey added: “We had some wonderful times and were lucky to have such loyal owners and staff.

“The phone has not stopped ringing since Bill passed away.

“Bill was known for being honest with all his horses running fair and square. People knew where they were with him.”

Mrs Elsey said following his retirement her husband had taken up woodturning.

“He was very good at it making bowls and tables which he gave to family and friends,” she said.

“Bill was also very keen on shooting and loved his gardening.

“We had a good life together bringing the children up in the country way. We both loved being outdoors, Bill certainly couldn’t have sat in an office all day.”

Mr Elsey also leaves six children Beni, Charlie, Kate, Vicky, Annie and Liz and six grandchildren Tom, Jamie, Alice, Rosie, Wade and Ferdy. His funeral service will be held at All Saints Church, Settrington, on Thursday, January 17, at noon, with donations to Racing Welfare.