A DAY in each life comes when it loses a large part of itself. That day came for my family last week.

Our father lost a quiet brief fight with Covid after having to deal with cancer for the past few months.

He was a wonderful character and a joy to be around. He was infectious with his enthusiasm and his humour. Cared for deeply near and far, he will miss everyone as much as they will miss him.

He gave much more than he took and sometimes that cost him. He was outgoing, he was friendly and behind it all was extremely thoughtful. He was a huge family man and was the gel that kept us together.

He influenced so many and guided people in the right direction if ever asked. King or countryman, he had time for them all. Often a whiskey in hand, a large grin on his face and another story being relayed with its usual joy.

He loved his horses, born and bred with them in his family. He was a thorough horseman, ponies, half-breds, hunt races, point-to-points, flat, National Hunt, the Curragh, Cheltenham, he dabbled in them all and came out on the right side.

He qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1969, took up training in 1976 and did so up until November 3rd. It was his passion, he loved his owners, he loved his staff, loved his jockeys and most certainly loved his winners.

He had his routine, shower and shaved, breakfast, dogs into the boot of the car, back to the gallop for first lot, to do what he loved best.

Four or five more lots, a trip to the butcher’s for the dinner and the chats, and to the shop for papers and milk.

Lunch at 1pm, give or take about three minutes and into the sitting room with his coffee to watch every single race that was aired on television. His phone put through its paces, calls in or out with numerous friends to discuss a certain ride or impressive performance just gone.

His cryptic crossword was completed in the couple of minutes spare between races and out to cook the dinner for 6pm.

Brothers, sisters, cousins, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and his own parents before that, he simply adored them all. He had the biggest heart and made room for us all.

His friends and colleagues were like extensions of himself, he counted on them and they could count on him. He was a people’s person and a person of the people. He never gave up on anything or anyone.

There was a special place in his heart for our mother. All day, he was tough, the leader, the boss. When she spoke, he turned to putty, he would hang on her every word and stare into her soul as she spoke them.

They had ‘it’ and there was no more to it. They were each other’s missing piece and she will care and bring up their grandchildren to be the people they both would have loved them to be. He kept that side for her and was a little tougher to the rest of us. He had a grit and determination that simply knew no bounds.

Two days before he died, struggling, he had a horse that was recently injured and was at our cousin’s house for a break.

She told him, on his death bed. that the horse was in good form. His reply: ‘Don’t get too fond of him, he’ll be coming home soon.’ Quitting wasn’t a thought.

The name of the horse, Still Alive.